Today’s post is from our very own CFR resident, Jenn Rawson! Jenn is a PA by day and badass CrossFitter/paleo chef by night. Jen has got knowledge bombs for days that she wants to help you guys with so look forward to reading her blog once a week. You will see a perfect mix of knowledge and little quick fixes that we can utilize to get better. So without dragging on too long, here you guys go…
I said a hip hop, a hippity hop… For Hip Flexors!
By: Jenn Rawson
Hip flexors are a group of muscles that in my opinion are seriously underrated. When you are checking out a potential prospect I bet that no one is saying to themselves.. “Wow he/she has some strong (and sexy) hip flexors!” But after reading this maybe you will think again. (or not!) However they are very important in everyday movement as well as explosive athletic movements that we perform on a daily basis at CFR. I can pretty much guess that no one is concentrating on these muscles during our WODs but after Tuesday’s WOD last week I was quickly reminded again how important they are.
What is so important about the hip flexor?
The hip flexors are a group of skeletal muscles from all around the pelvis that work together to flex the femur, ie pull the knee upward. They all work in unison to achieve the intended movement, which is why it is important to do total body workouts as opposed to isolation. (High Five Crossfit) When you run (especially sprinting), box jump, step up, or walk, these muscles are acting to move legs and hips.
1. Iliopsoas (inner hip muscles):
- · Psoas major
- · Psoas minor
- · Iliacus muscle
2. Anterior Compartment of thigh:
- · Rectus Femoris
- · Sartoris
3. One of gluteal muscles:
- · Tensor fasciae latae
4. Medial compartment of thigh:
- · Pectineus
- · Adductor longus
- · Adductor brevis
- · Gracilis
Although all of these muscles make up the hip flexors the iliopsoas and the iliacus are the big men on campus. The iliopsoas, the strongest of the hip flexors, attaches to the lower back while the iliacus attaches to the hip bone. Without the iliopsoas muscles, flexion in a sitting position is not possible across the horizontal plane.
Why does my hip flexor hurt?
Since these muscles are dominated by slow-twitch fibers they are susceptible to shortening or contracting. Sitting down contracts these muscles into a shortened position, which can lead to not only pain in the hips and upper legs but severe back pain as well. Such shortening can lead to increased anterior pelvic tilt and lumbar lordosis (i.e. big ass, beer gut) and limitation of hip extension.
Chances are most of us have some tightening in the hip flexors and have experienced the effects without even noticing it. Just raise a hand if this sounds familiar.. You stand up from a chair at work and your lower back starts quivering, and then before you know it you walk down the hall and your knees ache. Both of these symptoms can originate from tight hip flexors. Crazy right?! Our body is a sneaky little thing. Now while a little tightening may not be a big deal to the average person, for crossfitters it can greatly inhibit performance and progress.
Government statistics suggest that almost 50% of people report sitting more than 6 hours a day; 65% say they spend more than 2 hours a day watching TV.
OK we get it.. SO now what?
First and foremost.. Prevention! For those of you who have jobs where you sit all day it is important to get up as often as possible to move around, stretch and even show off doing some wall squats. (Squat it like it’s HOT!!) If you are too embarrassed to be the lone soldier on the wall then your next approach should be proper stretching and warm-up exercises before you start the WOD.
I’ll outline some of my favorite exercises and stretches for loosening your hip flexors.
1. Overhead Lunges
This is possibly the best exercise you can do for opening up your hip flexors. It is basically a normal lunge with the addition of holding a medicine ball or light plate over your head. Why make it harder by holding something of your head!? Well the fascia, which is a sheath that runs over the muscle, acts as accessory to the crime of muscle tightness. Holding something above your head while lunging stretches this bad boy out which is an added benefit.
2. Reverse Lunges
When you step back you activate your butt which relaxes your hip flexors. The key to this exercise is LONG LUNGE. See this video for Reverse Lunge.
While I would not do these right off the bat if you are having any type of hip flexor pain, the OH squat is a great strengthening exercise. Holding a bar overhead, opens your hip area, straightens your spine and promotes full range of motion while lengthening your hip flexors. It also prevents tight hip flexors from pulling you forward the lower you get into your squat.
1. Foam Roll
I like this version because it incorporates the fascia that I was talking about.
2. Wall Stretch
3. Twisted Hip Flexor Stretch
If you can’t hold your foot then leave it flat on the floor. The key to this exercise is the twisting motion so you can open up your hip more.
So remember even with daily life well trained hip flexors will make tasks easier. Without them all forms of squats and lunges would be impossible!! So sad!
IF YOU WANT TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT YOUR HIP FLEXORS WATCH THIS VIDEO!!!!!
Workout of the Day: 31 October 12
A) box squats @ 50% 12×2
B) For time:
25 Med-Ball Cleans 20/14
20 Med-Ball Cleans
15 Med-Ball Cleans
10 Med-Ball Cleans