Hip Flexor Weakness: Causes & Exercises to Manage It

Although all the muscles in the body are important and carry out a variety of functions, the Hip Flexor muscles have their own importance. These muscles are responsible for ambulation, manage stairs, climbing, and running. However, how well the Hip Flexor muscles are able to execute their functions depends on the stability that is provided to them by the abdominal muscles. A person with weak Hip Flexor muscles will cause the other muscles supporting it to overcompensate causing a variety of symptoms, including pain and problems with ambulation.[1,2,3]

The best way however to treat weak hip flexors is through physical therapy and exercises. Anatomically speaking, the hip flexor muscles connect the low back to the hips, groin, and thigh bones. Some of the other symptoms that are seen in a person with Weak Hip Flexors include significant changes in posture, pain in the knees, hip, and back.[1,2,3]

Some of the primary causes of Weak Hip Flexors is a strain to these muscles which can be caused due to hip flexor strain. It is quite easy for the hip flexors to get strained since it is one of the most used muscles in the body. While hip flexor strain is different from hip flexor weakness but Weak Hip Flexors can definitely be a causative factor for strains.[1,2,3] The article below highlights some of the causes for Weak Hip Flexors and different ways to manage the condition.

What Causes Hip Flexor Weakness?

Some of the potential causes for Weak Hip Flexors include:

Sedentary Lifestyle: This is one of the most common causes for Weak Hip Flexors. If the muscles are not used adequately or if not used the way they should then it is quite obvious that hip flexor muscles can become stiff and weak. This is because underused muscles lead to degeneration which is medically termed as muscle atrophy. This is what makes the Hip Flexors weak.[3]

Prolonged Sitting: If a person sits for prolonged periods of time without a break then it can also cause Weak Hip Flexors. This is because long periods of sitting cause the psoas muscle which is a part of the hip flexors to become weak due to not being used adequately.[3]

Osteoarthritis: This is a medical condition which causes the bones to become brittle and weak making a person prone to fracture. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint and when it occurs in the hip joints then it causes Weak Hip Flexors.[3]

Cerebral Palsy: An article published in the Journal of Ultrasound mentions that people with cerebral palsy also at times can have Weak Hip Flexors. It also states that children with this condition are prone to frequent hip dislocations during their childhood years.[3]

How To Differentiate Between Tight Hip Flexors and Hip Flexor Weakness?

It is important to differentiate between tight hip flexors and Weak Hip Flexors as they both are separate entities but may share the same symptoms. The biggest difference is that if a person has true Hip Flexor Weakness then the symptoms will respond to strengthening exercises whereas if it is inhibition or tightness then these exercises will have no bearing on the symptoms experienced. However, in most cases Hip Flexor Weakness and tightness both occur concurrently.[4]

Exercises To Manage Hip Flexor Weakness

The best way to manage Hip Flexor Weakness is through physical therapy and exercises. These exercises are aimed at loosening up the muscles and making them strong to be able to sustain the daily workload. Some of the exercises that are useful for Hip Flexor Weakness include:[3]

Ankle Weights: This is quite an easy exercise to do. The person needs to sit on a chair and put some weights on the ankles. Now the person has to slowly lift the ankles and bring them back down. It can also be done in a standing position. This exercise strengthens the psoas muscle which is extremely important for strong Hip Flexors.[3]

Lunges: To do this exercise, the person needs to stand with the legs about hip width apart. Place one leg in front. Now, bend the knee such that it makes a 90 degree angle and a stretch in the back is felt. The rear knee should be parallel to the floor. Now come back to the starting position and do this with the other leg. Repeat this process about 10 times.[3]

Resistance Band Training: A study done in 2016 on the effectiveness of resistance band training in people with Hip Flexor Weakness showed that people who did this exercise had more relief than people who did not do it. These exercises also significantly strengthened the hip flexors. One of the exercises that a person can do with the resistance band is to place a band around both ankles.[3]

Stand with the feet slightly apart from each other and the knees bent slightly. Now try and walk diagonally with each step not being more than two feet long. Continue for about 15 steps. Repeat the process two to three times a day and a definite improvement will be observed in the symptoms within a period of six weeks.[3]

In conclusion, hip flexors are one of the most important muscles of the body. These muscles are involved with ambulation, navigating stairs, and running which are extremely important for a person in daily life. A person with Hip Flexor Weakness will find it tough to even carry out basic activity of daily living. Hip Flexor Weakness is mainly seen in people who live a fairly sedentary lifestyle or work at a place where they have to sit for prolonged period of time. This makes the muscles tight and weak resulting in the symptoms that have been mentioned above.[1,2,3]

The best way to manage Hip Flexor Weakness is by way of physical therapy and exercises. Strengthening and resistance band exercises are the best and easy ways to strengthen the hip flexors. There are also certain medical conditions like osteoarthritis that can also cause Hip Flexor Weakness. Managing these conditions through medications and other recommendations of the physician diligently helps in managing Hip Flexor Weakness.[1,2,3]

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