Stop Stretching Your Hip Flexors! (HERE’S WHY)

Stop Stretching Your Hip Flexors! (HERE’S WHY)


What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com. Today we’re going to talk all about the
hip flexors. More importantly, whether or not you should
be stretching yours, or leaving them alone. As a matter of fact, you might want to be
doing the exact opposite. That is, strengthening them. I’m going to show you today how to test
whether yours are tight, or weak, and figure out what is a better route for you to go if
you want to get rid of the issues that are being caused by your hip flexors right now. All right, the first thing that needs to be
cleared up is a little bit of anatomy. Not to bore you, but it’s really important
here. When we talk about the hip flexors it’s
not a single muscle group. There are actually five muscles that are responsible
for flexing the hip. Three of them – the TFL, the Rectus Femoris,
which is one of the quad muscles, and the Sartorius, which is more of a groin muscle
– they all attach at the level of the hip to the iliac crest. So, they can only really flex the hip up to
the level of the hip. But the two that we’re really concerned
about are the ones that bring it up higher than that. Which is the Soas and the Iliacus. Those are the two where, when we talk about
“Oh, my hip flexors feel tight”, those are the ones we’re really talking about
because when they’re tight you usually get a lot of back pain. You can see why. The muscles of the Soas here attach to all
the lumbar vertebrae. They literally go through the body and attach
the lumbar vertebrae. So, when these are tight they could actually
be pulling on your lumbar spine and causing all kinds of issues. So, we need to get to the bother of whether
or not it’s a tightness that’s causing the issues here in your back, or whether or
not it’s a weakness. Again, the recommendations are going to be
drastically different, depending upon which of those two it is. So, let’s start off by testing the flexibility
in the hip. We want to make sure there is a tightness
here before you start stretching it. A lot of times what we’re really hiding
is more of a weakness, instead of a tightness. But we can do that very easily with a quick
test. You sit at the edge of a bench here – about
mid-thigh – then you’re going to lay back, pull both knees up, and then drop one down. You want to make sure right off the bat that
your low back flat here because what you’re looking for is to see whether or not this
leg, the one that’s down, is in contact with the surface you’re on, or whether it’s
flailing up in the air like this. The second thing you want to look for is whether
or not the knee itself is capable of bending. Really, ideally, down to about 80, or 90 degrees. Or is it more extended, like this? Or it could be combination of both because
what we want to determine now is, if we are in some position here where it’s off the
surface here, and we have the inability to get our knee fully bent, we know we have some
tightness. But is it a quad tightness? The Rectus Femoris that we talked about? Or is it more of an actual hip flexor? What you would do is, with the knee floating
in this position you would ask the person – or you would do it yourself – you’d
just straighten out the knee. If, by straightening the knee the leg goes
down fully in contact with the surface here, that means you have more of a quad tightness,
or a rectus tightness. When you took the quad off the stretch and
relieved it, then I was able to go down, then everything else was loose enough to get down. If, on the other hand, when you do this and
nothing changes, or certainly doesn’t get down to the level of the bench, now you’ve
got a true hip flexor tightness. In which case, that’s when you want to actually
start using your hip flexor stretches to attack that. But a lot of times when you see this yourself
you may realize, “You know what? I really don’t have a tightness.” And that’s when it starts to come back,
where I said in the beginning, your manifesting something far different. You’re probably manifesting a weak hip. I’m going to show you how to test for that
now, too. So, let’s say you didn’t have a tightness,
but you still feel that there’s something off in your hip. It’s what’s causing you to really always
want to stretch it. By the way, when you stretch it, if you tend
to get a little bit of temporary relief, but then an hour later things are actually worse
than they were before; you’re likely dealing even more with what we’re going to talk
about right now. That is a weak hip flexor. Then all you’re doing is stretching it and
making it worse. So what you want to do is have a way to test
that on you. We can do that very simply. Take a box – any surface that allows your
knee to be higher than your hip when you put your foot on it. Then what we want to do from here is lift
off that surface. So, stand upright. Put your hands behind your head so you can’t
cheat. We don’t want to lean toward it. We don’t want to bring our chest to the
knee. We want to be able to bring our knee up to
our chest. See if you can hold it up here for 15 seconds. So, lift off that surface so your hip is as
high as you can flex it actively, and then from here, see if you can hold it. If you start to get a cramp in the outside
of your hip – which would be in the tenser area, here – that’s a good indication
that you have a weakness in this muscle group here. It’s asking for help from another muscle
down below that isn’t really equipped to do what you’re asking it to do. Which is, flex above 90 degrees. If you remember back to the anatomy we showed
earlier the ones that attached at the level of the hip are good at flexing you to that
level. But they’re not so good at flexing you above. So, by putting ourselves in this position
here, where our knee is already above 90 degrees, now the only thing we can do is either use
that Iliacus, or the Soas to try to get us up here. That’s where you’re going to find a good
weakness if it exists. The other thing we can do is, we don’t have
to use this at all. We could just stand right here and pull the
leg as high as we can, and then dynamically let it go. When we let it go, if I can’t keep it here
in this position, like that, if it drops and catches – guess where? At 90 degrees. Well, that’s the level at which it got a
little bit of assistance from those other three muscles that are helping on that level. But I don’t have the strength to be able
to take it up above the 90-position and hold it up above 90. So that would be a good indication. If you hold it here, and you drop it, and
you can’t hold it, you can’t stop the leg until it gets to the level of 90. So, let’s say that’s the case. What would you do? Well, that’s an instance where the test
becomes the exercise. You could actually go back into this position
here and do leg lifts right from here. So, I’m in this position, I’m above 90,
I want to strengthen the hip flexors, I put my arms up behind my head, and I do leg lifts
in that position. I try to do that, and hold that, either for
time, or for reps. I can also take it up a notch by taking a
band, anchoring it down to something low here, wrapping it around the foot this way, and
then I’ve got a resisted lift here, to adding more strength as our hip flexors begin to
start getting stronger. The key is this, guys: you want to find out
right off the bat. You’re going to test both sides. Do you actually have a hip flexor tightness? Because if you don’t and you stretch it,
you’re going to make your problems worse. If you’re having back pain during ab exercises
you’re going to make that back pain worse. If you’re just having tightness and a general
feeling of something that’s off in the hip, that’s going to get worse if you keep doing
that. On the other hand, if you have a weakness
and you don’t address it, nothing’s going to get better. So you want to find out which of the two you’re
dealing with. If it is a tightness then, yes, the stretches
are going to be appropriate. But if they’re not, you want to avoid them. If you have to, guys, I always say, “You’ve
got to own it”. Own this. If you have a hip flexor weakness then you’ve
got to own this, and you’ve got to start doing stuff about it. As a matter of fact, maybe you’re not doing
enough explosive training. That’s a good argument for getting outside
and doing some sprints to actually train, to start using those hip flexors above 90
degrees, in a more explosive way. If you’re looking for a training program
that puts it all out there and puts all together so we overlook nothing in our training, that’s
what ATHLEANX is all about. You can get our ATHLEANX training system over
at ATHLEANX.com. In the meantime, I hope you found the video
helpful. Make sure you leave your comments and thumbs
up below. Let me know what you want me to cover and
I’ll do my best to do that for you. As you can see, or hear, the voice is still
not back, but that does not stop me from bringing the goods here to you guys, each and every
week with our videos. So, pardon me for the voice, but I hope you
got some good information from this. All right, guys. I’ll see you soon.

100 comments on “Stop Stretching Your Hip Flexors! (HERE’S WHY)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ Post author

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    Reply
  2. George Basham Post author

    Wow … very illuminating. I wondered how I injured my hip playing tennis since I do a lot of band work, squats, lunges, martial arts style kicks etc. and my hip flexors are fairly strong. For example, can bring my knee up, and let go and it does not drop. But … doing the "bench flexibility test" just now I discovered they are ridiculously inflexible. Need to add stretching to my routine. Damn.

    Reply
  3. Patrick Farrelly Post author

    Funny that! Here's me stretching my hip flexors, doing exactly what JEFF told me to do FOR HIP TILT!!!! Make your mind up dude!!!

    Reply
  4. Anggia Angela Post author

    I don’t know why I’m here…my hips flexors aren’t tight nor weak.
    I do cycling class 3-4x/week, I do straddle legs lift, I stretch it like almost everyday, no back pain either…

    I’m okay to continue to stretch it right? I kinda need it for oversplit

    Reply
  5. Markku Nikkanen Post author

    Seriously, I've had doctors and physiotherapists telling me I need to stretch my hip flexors when I have anterior pelvic tilt. Wtf, why the hell they give me false information? They should've told me how to fix the problem, not to make it worse.

    Reply
  6. Travis O’Connell Post author

    What if you have anterior pelvic tilt? I have weak glutes and strong/ tight hip flexors. I don’t think this applies to everyone

    Reply
  7. Andy Duffy Post author

    Came here, to a video of Jeff telling me to stop stretching my hip flexors, from a video of Jeff showing me how to stretch my hip flexors. He keeps me on my toes daily

    Reply
  8. Jordan Hunt Post author

    I have a deep pain in the inside of my hip whenever I lift my leg upwards cause by squats but I can do everything in this video, does anyone know what it could be?

    Reply
  9. himayun19 Post author

    Hi . I like your videos and honestly very helpful. I have a problem while descending the mountain . If I go for trekking while climbing the hill I don't have any issue . But while descending the mountain I feel pain outside of my left knee. Which makes it impossible to descend down the hill. Kindly advice which muscle group I should target and what excercise should I do. Even weight training if required.

    Reply
  10. Barefoot Rehab Post author

    I love this explanation of testing. In our practice where we specialize in giving people PERMANENT pain relief to those who have had more than 6 months of pain, we remove a special problem called ADHESION. If you're struggling with pain that isn't going away, I highly recommend trying to find an adhesion doctor near where you live.

    Reply
  11. Jerry webb Post author

    this is incredibly helpful. I have subscribed. My symptom is have to lift my left leg to get into drivers side of car. what do you think? Been doing both stretch and strengthening but little progress.

    Reply
  12. MtnXfreeride Post author

    Sooo your test says no tightness.. but I definitely have anterior pelvic tilt and literally feel the tug when flattening my back.

    Reply
  13. annelohuis1 Post author

    Thnx! Do You do not have to use a foamroll before strenghtening it?
    What if is not thightness and if you strenghtening it and next day pain is worse?

    Reply
  14. AlainFitnessDoc Post author

    Tightness and weakness are not mutually exclusive. Often when your muscles are weak, they become tight to make up for their lack of strength.

    Reply
  15. Hayden J Post author

    Do it, dont do it? Next there be telling us to do a backflip and land on our necks to live longer lol bruh go to a chiropractor

    Reply
  16. Lad Laddington Post author

    Jeff you are the man. I use this channel for education and motivation! Best fitness channel on youtube, no bullshit, just the cold hard facts!

    Reply
  17. sumit kumar singh Post author

    Thanks for this video no i can proudly say that i have a tight hip flexor which is causing me a rounded lower back during my conventional deadlift

    Reply
  18. Adam Post author

    If you sit for long periods of time and are generally not active, I would think you would have both TIGHT and WEAK hip flexors, hence benefit from both stretching and strengthening…but hey, I've got no credentials, just a little common sense..

    Reply
  19. chris king Post author

    I remember running track for the first year. I messed both sides up which stopped me for a long time. After it healed and I kept strengthening them in track, they never hurt again.

    Reply
  20. Bacnow Post author

    Come on bro! Puma pants with Nike shoes? That’s a gym fashion faux pas! 🤣 just kidding! Love your videos!

    Reply
  21. Flávio Wolff Post author

    Ok but why is stretching bad if you have no weakness or tightness? Title is confusing

    Reply
  22. S D Post author

    This is the one stretch that saved me from my SI pain and short leg discrepancy. Everytime I play sports and bam my SI starts to hurt, I do this stretch and Its absolute magic. I will not stop doing it!!! Ever.

    Reply
  23. Freddie Alberto Post author

    Ok question, what if you’ve never stretched your hip flexor before and the test you showed above, does it still imply that I have a weak hip flexor?

    Reply
  24. ncave Post author

    That is really impressive balance at 5:30.If you haven't tried that assisted active stretch it is much more difficult then Jeff makes it look

    Reply
  25. Shivom Kumar Post author

    Hi Jeff,
    Can u please make a video covering all the exercises that help to address weak hips problem. How to strengthen weak hips ?

    Reply
  26. Richard Marais Post author

    Can someone offer some advise please?

    I had ACL reconstruction a few years ago on my right knee. I have rehabed the knee, have full range of motion and most of the strength back. It was a hamstring graft, so my the right hamstring will always be a little weaker.

    I did the tests Jeff demonstrated, and I have plenty flexibility on both legs hip flexors (more in the right, I guess from always doing range of movement stretches when I injured my knee). I also do the strength tests, and I have no problems on both legs.

    I do however have minor pain and stiffness on my hip (right side) all the time. I thought it was a tight hip flexor, but after watching this video and doing the tests, I'm not sure what it is.

    Can anyone advise what I can do?

    I currently go to gym 6 times a week, and on leg days do a lot of squats and walking lunges. (I had this issue before I started gym too).

    Thank you

    Reply
  27. Christina Wolf Post author

    Very informative video – thanks! My hip flexors passed both tests, they seem to be both flexible and strong. But they are in pain all the time, and the more I use them the more they hurt. I wonder what the problem is?? I guess I need to go see a professional about it, but I'm open to anyone's ideas or suggestions 🙂

    Reply
  28. Where’s Paul Though Post author

    Great video, Been dealing with lower back problems associated with weak or otherwise tight muscles. Thanks!

    Reply
  29. Cam S Post author

    What if you have an anterior pelvic tilt? Is it always caused by tight hip flexors or can it also be caused by weak hip flexors??

    Reply
  30. Willisolarpower Post author

    So I am not sure what is wrong. According to your test my hip flexors don't need stretching, however I can also lift it up above [email protected] and hold it there. However when I go over 90 deg, I have a lot of pain on what seems like it is the iliopsoas. My guess is I must have strained it or something…?

    Reply
  31. Jim Murrell Post author

    I can feel mine when i walk like chords, and they feel tight, after a little stretch they dont bother me,……. Till iv been sitting another hour that is, then i have too do it all over again.

    Reply
  32. M B Post author

    He just saved millions of people from mindless stretching and pain , great comprehensive way of teaching us , we really appreciate your help Jeff

    Reply
  33. 6ix 8ight Post author

    I have Anterior Pelvic Tilt and should stretch my Hip Flexors.
    I have weak Hip Flexors and should not stretch them.

    Can someone tell me what I'm supposed to do now?

    Reply
  34. Koroar Post author

    Hmm… if any fitness people out there could help I would be really grateful. I've only recently lost weight and started trying to workout more, but my flexibility is absolutely terrible. I can't touch my toes without bending my knees, and even sitting up straight with my legs on the floor so I'm at 90 degrees is hard. For a long time I thought it was a hip flexor problem because so many youtube videos say it's rarely your hamstrings, but I can do both of these tests with no problem. Does that mean it actually is a hamstring problem? I should just keep stretching them every day?

    Reply
  35. davidkhd Post author

    none of the tests gave any indication of something was wrong but i still have back pain so i keep on stratching hip flexors. A bit tired of many chefs in the kitchen..

    Reply
  36. Kabir Kumar Post author

    What if I can get my leg flat and down pretty well, but I can't quite get it at 90 degrees? I actually feel a bit of stiffness/tightness/something in my hamstring, which is weird because I've got pretty flexible hamstrings (I can do the splits, and do so regularly). Do I have weak hamstrings?

    Reply
  37. camaro88z Post author

    Ty. Doc told me today she think I have an issue with hip flexors. Because I shake when standing on one foot. So now I know how to test and see. Ty ty

    Reply
  38. AtomSmasher78 Post author

    Absolute b*******. One of my hip flexors was super tight and the other one was pretty much average. It greatly affected my balance and walking. After being vigilant and stretching out that's one side my walking feels much more natural and balanced now. People need to stop barking out these bullshit so called facts

    Reply
  39. isaiah navarro Post author

    I had no idea tht the hip goes through the body to the back of the spine i have pain on my left side in tht exact spot i thought it was a organ i hurt or something this is why you are the best jeff 🙏❤
    And if it is tight what do i do?

    Reply
  40. John Wilkinson Post author

    1. Ok, stretching when it's weak is bad, but is strengthening when it's tight also bad? 2. Is it possible to be tight on one side and weak on the other? ty

    Reply
  41. Nik Vuk Post author

    It's weird but I feel like I have both weakness and tightness in the iliopsoas muscle. Every single time I extend my hip there's a cracking noise, and from time to time when I stretch more, I feel the muscle going over the hip bone producing the loudest cracking ever. The whole inside of the hamstring feels very weak in general, while at the same time the back of the hamstring feels extremely tight. I am really not sure how to proceed. Any input would be awesome!

    Reply
  42. Cam Post author

    I often pull a muscle in my hip on the bump of your hip whenever I run full speed about 7% time.

    Reply
  43. Cam Post author

    Sometimes if I jump out of bed extremely fast I feel a thing pop up in the upper thigh and I pushed it back and it fixed it. This has happened 3 times but hasn’t within 2 years. Would that affect anything? Also it’s extremely painful if don’t push it down.

    Reply
  44. 2jesusIbelong Post author

    I feel tight but I can do both no problem. Must be a different mucle that is tight or weak 🤔. I feel like my legs are too heavy when I walk and my knee wants to slip sometimes. My butt muscles feel very tight, maybe it's that

    Reply
  45. crikeymos22 Post author

    Disappointed in this vid. Why is his shirt not off. Get that bloody shirt off!!! No seriously this has been useful.

    Reply
  46. Elm o Post author

    I did this exercise 5:20 and my leg did not fall down,it stays in the position,so do you think that my hip flexors are not weak but sometimes tight,so can i strech them without problems,please can somedy reply

    Reply
  47. james varga Post author

    You answered literally none of my questions or identified what muscle / tendon is the cause of my hip pain.

    Reply
  48. CMsJean Post author

    As a bodywork therapist this was quite helpful. People need to see and hear about difference between tight and weak. So many don't believe me when I tell them their present exercise regimens are damaging. I will certainly send people your way. This gives me more credibility!

    Reply
  49. Noah Eberly Post author

    Why in the hell would it be wrong to stretch a muscle. "Oh don't stretch there and I'll tell you why I came up with this video out of nowhere

    Reply
  50. beingofleisure Post author

    Great video! I found out one of my quads needs work and had both knees drop to the 90 degree point. I have been working on my hip abductuctors but will look into iliac/psoas stretches!

    Reply
  51. Lisa Samuel Post author

    I’ve had problems with back pain during sit ups and pain that radiates from lower back to lower abdominal area. A recent injury to leg made it worse. I’ve always stretched now I realized it has been making it worse. Thanks I figured after your explanation and the test confirmed they are most likely weak.

    Reply
  52. Joanna Martinsen Post author

    Hey jeff! I tried both of the exercises and i was able to do both the flexibility and strength tests pretty well. I can’t tell what is wrong with my hip flexor, the strengthening exercises caused a bit of pain in the front of my hip, does that mean i need to strengthen it? I need to find a way to get rid of the pain in my hip flexor for hockey season.

    Reply
  53. Tillypoo Post author

    I'm trying to get my head round this. These stretches come up alot when trying to fix anterior pelvic tilt. I did both your tests without any problems so does this mean it's the other muscles in the same group I need to work on? Do you have any videos for that? Thanks

    Reply
  54. aw123336 Post author

    Is it possible to have tightness AND weakness at the same time? If so, should we both stretch and strengthen?

    Reply
  55. Ryan Hughes Post author

    this has got to be the SINGLE MOST RIDICULOUS video Ive ever seen. This video is not for athletes and certainly will not help you to improve your sprint times or else. Hip flexor flexibility in combination with strength will drastically improve your athleticism, Ive done it, Ive trained others do it, and every single time, their 40 yard dash has improved through basic hip improvement.

    Reply

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