Knowledge – When it comes to building the best physique possible, you have to be willing to experiment and learn from your body. No one will be able to tell you what’s the most effective nutrition or training split for your individual genotype. Not only that, they don’t know your personal preference, injury history, asymmetries, experience level, or current work capacity.
The first step that needs to be taken is to determine if the tightness is due to a true lack of flexibility (perform the Thomas test above) or if it is because of weakness in the muscle itself. Once that is determined you need to focus on reducing the tension felt in the hip flexor and improving core control/stability so that the issue does not return. As with any condition, the root cause must be found (the root cause is not often at the site of pain) in order to get long lasting relief. This is why so many people unfortunately have to deal with this issue for several months or even years…..because the root cause was never found and they were just given generic information to “open up the hips” or “just stretch more”. Below are some common exercises I like to give to patient’s to start out with to help alleviate this condition. (Please keep in mind that every individual patient has different needs but these exercises tend to work in MOST cases.) The first hip flexor exercise involves actually strengthening the hip flexor while focusing on a neutral spine for core stability.
From a standing position on your left foot, hinge forward from your hips keeping your back flat and right leg in straight behind it, and core braced. Reach your right hand toward your left foot. Then, engage your glutes and hamstrings on your left leg to drive yourself back up to standing and swing your right knee up and through toward your chest. Stand as tall as possible and hold that end position for 2-3 seconds before repeating. This entire exercise is about “sticking” the knee drive hold at the end, so don’t rush through it. Repeat for required reps, then switch sides.
The sartorius originates at the ASIS and proceeds to traverse obliquely and laterally down the thigh to eventually insert at the anterior surface of the tibia, just inferomedial to the tibial tuberosity, as part of the pes anserinus. In addition to flexing the hip and knee, the sartorius aids in the abduction of the hip. It is innervated by the femoral nerve (i.e., the posterior division of L2 and L3).
It arises from the posterior gluteal line of the inner upper ilium, a pelvic bone, and roughly the portion of the bone including the crest of the ilium (the hip bone), immediately above and behind it; and from the posterior surface of the lower part of the sacrum, the base of the spine, and the side of the coccyx, the tailbone; from the aponeurosis of the erector spinae (lumbodorsal fascia), the sacrotuberous ligament, and the fascia covering the gluteus medius (gluteal aponeurosis). The fibers are directed obliquely downward and lateralward; The gluteus maximus has two insertions:
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The primary hip flexors are the rectus femoris, iliacus, psoas, iliocapsularis, and sartorius muscles. The rectus femoris muscle has two distinct origins proximally: the direct head and the reflected head. They originate at the AIIS and the anterior acetabular rim (in close proximity to the anterior hip capsule), respectively. The tendinous fibers of the rectus femoris coalesce distally and become confluent with the other quadriceps musculature in the thigh. The quadriceps consists of four distinct muscles: 1) the vastus intermedius; 2) the vastus lateralis; 3) the vastus medialis; and 4) the rectus femoris. The rectus femoris is the only quadriceps muscle that traverses both the hip and the knee joint. The rectus femoris is a powerful hip flexor, but it is largely dependent on the position of the knee and hip to assert its influence. It is most powerful when the knee is flexed, whereas significant power is lost when the knee is extended. The rectus femoris is innervated by the femoral nerve (i.e., the posterior division of L2 to L4).
2. What's your training like? Are you crushing 25 sets for chest like the average juiced out bodybuilder? If so, there's a pretty good chance you might be working above your MRV (maximal recoverable volume) and as such any physiological adaptation which could have taken place is going to be minimal given the cellular environment which occurs in a state of functional overreaching.
SOURCES: Debbie Siebers, certified personal trainer; developer of fitness video/DVD programs. Sue Carver, physical therapist; owner, A World of Difference Therapy Services, Little Rock, Ark. WebMD Live Event transcript: "Staying Fit -- Rich Weil, MEd, CDE," Feb. 25, 2004. WebMD Live Event transcript: "Fall Into Fitness Richard Weil, MEd, CDE," Sept. 2, 2003.
Remember my special answer: here it is… MOUTHTAPERS exist. People out there will tape their mouth closed during sleep so that they can breathe their nose. Even during the day sometimes. Why? Because the nose is directly connected to the diaphragm while the mouth is connected to the chest. Sure, increase chest mobility and your lungs may be able to expand more which will allow more air to be held, BUT HOW CAN YOU HOLD THAT MORE AIR IF YOUR DIAPHRAGM is weak? You won’t. So everything I just talked about must be done through the nose. Notice yourself breathing with your mouth and SWITCH right away. It takes work and energy. How you breathe during the day rolls over to how you breathe during the night.