How to fix one hip flexor that is sore and tight
Once upon a time there was a hysterically funny (with the most contagious laugh) lady named Bonnie. She and I worked together over the years on various muscle things that would crop up, but then she moved away across town and I didn’t see her other than the occasional party.
Now we live in the same neighborhood again and finally got together to go for a walk with our doggies Walter and Nova. The very first thing she says to me the second we start to walk is, “Laura! I’ve been meaning to call you and ask you about my hip flexor! It is SO SORE, but only on one side!” She had been doing tons of yoga, and going to the chiropractor, but it was still bugging her. Interestingly enough, this was my third sore-hip-flexor-but-only-one-side question that week, and I was sensing a trend.
My first sore-hip-flexor-on-one-side question came from my longtime ski racer and mountain biker client Gary. He had exactly the same issue, and I had exactly the same answer for both of them….
Really, the same answer could be applied to any one-sided sore muscle!
First of all, how fantastic to be feeling that hip flexor. It is one of my top three favorite muscles. Everybody know where it is? Let’s look quickly again (thank you for the fabulous app Complete Anatomy 2020 for the amazing screenshot):
Now, if the hip flexor is working, but only on one side, repeat after me:
YOU NEED THE OTHER HIP FLEXOR
(or the identical muscle on the other side) TO WORK!
So, in both Bonnie and Gary’s case, I had them stand one one foot (and hold onto something if you’d like a little help balancing) and pump up the other hip flexor. How do you do that? Watch Bonnie demo it below!
(I have her balance on one foot activating the calf/hamstring/glute on the leg on the ground as she errs to the midline of the body and lifts the non-working hip flexor side up and down not quite to 90 degrees for 1:30)
Next, you need to think about which muscle is the obvious antagonist. Here are some example antagonistic pairs to illustrate what I mean: The bicep on the front of the arm is the antagonist to the tricep on the back of the arm, stomach balances out the back, quad on the front of the thigh balances out the hamstring on the back of the thigh.
And the answer is…..
Our favorite glute balances out the hip flexor!
Now I simply had Bonnie and Gary walk sideways to activate the glute. You’ve seen this before…drive thru the heel as you keep your leg straight but relaxed and feel the outside of the hip/glute area engage. Try for bursts of 1:30.
In both cases, both people felt remarkably better. No ’emergency surgery required’ as my client Suzanne says. 🙂
Therefore, next time you have one muscle hurting or sore on one side of the body, follow these simple steps:
1. Activate the exact same muscle on the other side of the body so that you can definitively say both are working equally
2. Figure out the anatagonistic muscle, and get that to engage
3. See 1 and 2 until you feel relief…and if you don’t then it might be time to seek medical attention.
It can be that simple! Let me know in the comments below when you try these tips or if you have any questions. You can do it!