Updated: Oct 29, 2022
Strong, mobile hip flexors lead to an increase in force expression from the glutes as well as a more powerful knee drive leading to better athletic performance such as speed and vertical jump. A proper balance between hip flexor and glute strength can lead to better force absorption taking pressure off of the lower back and in some cases reducing pain!
Take a few minutes to learn about how this works as well as how you can implement hip flexor work into your training.
The body functions as a chain. Force is transferred through the body and into the ground to create locomotion. If there is a weak link in the chain, that is what limits the entire structure when thinking about locomotion.
This means, that when you run or jump, you are not simply limited by how much force your muscles can produce. If you have a weak muscle group it will not be able to express all of the force you are producing. To read more about this see my article on Structural Balance
For many of us, the hip flexors are tight and weak. Two factors that contribute to this trend are our sedative lifestyle as humans and a lack of emphasis in training. We spend hours each day in a seated position with our hips in flexion (shortened). Our body is the ultimate machine of efficiency and will increase the resting tension of the hip flexor muscles in order to create more stability. Additionally, the hip flexors are overlooked and neglected in training programs for the general public and with athletes. I believe this is because often trainers are pressured to achieve quick results in order to maintain clients. The large muscles that are known to produce large amounts of force are then disproportionately strengthened to achieve results. But what happens when this is repeated over and over again over the course of years of training? The structure becomes imbalanced.
Consider this. The hips produce force by hinging. The large glute muscles contract and extend the hips. Try this movement seen below to understand this process.
While extending the hips and kicking the leg back as far as you can you will notice that you can only kick so far until you are limited by hip mobility and it becomes harder to extend the hips further. In order for the hips to extend not only do the glute muscles need to flex and move the joint, but the hip flexors must relax and ALLOW the movement.
So, now that you understand this concept of the PROTAGONIST muscle flexing and the ANTAGONIST muscle relaxing to create movement, we can see why it is important to have strong mobile hip flexors.
Increasing the strength and mobility of the hip flexors will:
Reduce the RESISTANCE the glutes have to overcome while extending the hips
Increased power in regards to knee drive (picking up the legs)
Improve posture and force absorption leading to less strain on the lower back
This all leads to more speed, vertical jump and less pain!
Training the Hip Flexors
See this post for some of our Most Effective Strengthening Exercises
Here is our favourite stretch for the hip flexors
Thank you for reading! Please reach out with any questions you might have regarding the hip flexors or training in general!