Your hip flexor is a major muscle that you need on your brain’s available muscle radar…but that begs the question of how do you know exactly where it is? How do you get it to work? It is brought onto the brain’s radar by crawling as a baby, but if you need to tap into it as an adult, how do you go about doing that?
Let’s figure that out!
So, notice that one half of the hip flexor muscle lines the inside of the hip, and attaches to the top of the inside of the thigh bone or femur. This is the iliacus- anything “ilium” sounding refers to the hip.
It has a slightly more famous best friend that you might have heard of- the psoas. Pronounced “SO-AZ” ….sound familiar?
Here’s what those two muscles do- they lift the leg up to take a step, or jump over a hurdle for instance.
Is there anything else that reminds you of the photo above?
How about a person sitting down…
That would also cause those two muscles to shorten, simply by the position you find yourself in on those endless Zoom meetings.
Here’s the kicker: YOUR BRAIN DOES NOT KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
The brain doesn’t care if you are sitting or repeatedly jumping over a hurdle. It just knows the muscle is shortened, and will therefore knock out the iliopsoas’ antagonist muscle the glute as a result….
A gentle reminder to mix it up during the day if you’re working with home. (Not from home: with! With home! Heard that distinction on a TED talk recently!)
I digress! 🙂
So now, how to find that hip flexor and tell it apart from the quad.
The photo above shows you where the hip flexor muscle is exposed. Notice it is just a fraction of the actual muscle- you really don’t have much access! Further, it is immediately adjacent to the quad attachment point which I show below…They are next door neighbors and are SO easy to mix up!
So how do you tell them apart? Well, lie on your back with your right leg extended out and put your right hand on that thigh or quad muscle. Contract that right quad and trace the muscle up to it’s attachment point on the hip. You’ll feel the tendon move under your fingers. Now, move your fingers over a smidge, and you are in hip flexor territory! The hip flexor actually lines up with the nipple, if you need another landmark to help you locate it.
A simple exercise to then engage the muscle is to let your knee fall in slightly (to disengage the inside of the thigh muscles) and lift that totally relaxed leg off of the floor maybe 12 inches. You are trying to get your HIP to pick your leg up off the ground, rather than your leg picking your leg up. Foot floppy so no shin helps, and try it for 90 seconds.
Of course try it on the other side!
I have made a video below to clarify the written directions, and let me know in the comments below if that makes things easier to locate and isolate that fabulous hip flexor!
P.S. I have been talking about this extensively on Instagram, so follow me there: @laura.coleman27