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How to Treat Imbalance in Hip Flexor Muscles

The job of the hip flexor, or iliopsoas muscle, is to bend the hip toward the thigh, lift the thigh toward the hip and assist in extension of the lower back. When the hip flexor is imbalanced, or shortened, it can manifest in vertical pain in the back, abdominal and/or pelvic pain, hip pain and pain in the front of the thigh. Exercises that incorporate hip stretching and rotation have been found to be effective in reducing pain and improving the function of the hip flexors, according to the University of Toronto's Faculty of Medicine.

Lying Hip Stretch

  1. Lie on your back on the edge of a table or bed with the leg you will stretch near the edge.

  2. Grasp your other leg under the knee and pull it toward your chest and keep your back flat on the table.

  3. Allow the leg being stretched to hand off the side of the table, using gravity to stretch the hip.

  4. Hold for a count of twenty to thirty.

Cobra Stretch

  1. Lie on your stomach with legs stretched out behind you.

  2. Place your hands palm down on the floor at chest level and raise your upper body off the floor. Do not allow your hips to come off the floor.

  3. Arch your head and neck toward the ceiling, keeping your hips, legs and feet relaxed on the floor.

  4. Hold for a count of twenty to thirty before lowering your chest back down to the floor.

Multidirectional Leg Raises

  1. Stand with legs straight, holding on loosely to a chair or table for balance.

  2. Raise your leg forward at sixty degrees, slowly, as high as you can and lower back down. Be careful not to allow your hips to change positions or rotate.

  3. Raise your leg to the side at thirty degrees as high as you can and lower back down. Be careful not to allow your hips to change positions or hike up.

  4. Raise your leg behind you at thirty degrees as high as you can and lower back down. Be careful not to allow your hips to change positions or hike up.

  5. Repeat sequence ten times and then reverse with the other leg.

    Warning

    You should not feel any pain when you are doing these exercises. If you feel pain anywhere, but especially in your hip, lower back, abdominal area or thigh, stop immediately and seek medical advice. Some spinal disc injuries can present the same pain patterns as hip flexor imbalances and should be ruled out before beginning any exercise programs.

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Things Needed

  • Table
  • Chair

About the Author

Lisa Atkinson has been writing health and fitness articles since 2000. She is a regular contributor to "The Fitness Motivation Monitor" health and fitness newsletter and to "The Rehab Connection." She has a Bachelor of Science in exercise physiology from the University of Massachusetts and is certified as a medical exercise specialist and health and fitness coach.

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