Are your tight hips leading to pain and injury?

Dec 07, 2020

Tight hips are often a cause for us experiencing pain and injury when we perform – but it doesn't have to be this way!

Weakness in the hips and glutes is common amongst those of us with a sedentary lifestyle.

Sitting for long hours at your desk can tighten your hip flexors, weaken your glutes and cause pain, and if our glutes aren’t working to their full capacity, then other muscles will have to overwork to pick up the slack.

Because of this, many athletes I’ve met are told by their physio that they have a ‘lazy butt’. So, how does this happen?

Let's take a minute to refresh our knowledge of the glutes. 

The gluteal muscle group consists of the gluteus maximus, minimus and medius. All three of these muscles have different yet very integrated roles in the lower body in relation to stability and mobility.

In summary, the gluteal muscles as a whole are responsible for:

  • Hip extension
  • Hip abduction
  • They are important for Femoral, patellar and tibial alignment
  • Stabilizing the lower back and sacroiliac joint via its attachment into the thoracolumbar fascia

The truth is, we sit too much, we take too many elevators and we skip too many stairs.

If we think a bit more about the sitting position, we can see that it is placing us in a hip flexed position. If the pelvis is tilted forward, then the hip flexors will become even tighter during the day while you are sitting at the computer, watching TV or riding a bike – yes, still in the sitting position!!

It has been shown that spending eight hours or more a day seated can have a negative impact on your glutes. If a muscle isn’t contracted, the muscle nerve neurons become dormant through underuse.

When this happens, these muscles cannot activate correctly, and your lower back and hip flexors become dominant and the glutes are neglected. This results in bad posture and bad form when you run and can lead to injury and decreased performance. 

Here are some of the injuries that can occur due to this muscle imbalance in the hip:

  • Knee and hip pain – can occur if the hip flexors and quads work too hard as they can recruit the ITB fibres to help do the work
  • Hamstring injury – can occur if the glutes aren't working and the hamstrings have to do too much
  • Sore back – can occur when the hip flexors are too tight, which causes the pelvis to posteriorly tilt so that the range of motion required at the hip can be achieved

Weak glutes can also affect leg alignment which can result in ankle, knee and hip injuries.

Let's try reverse this! Follow along with the video at the top of the blog for exercises that can help fix your tight hips and pain.

This is where we at Pilates For Sports come in.

Pilates is fabulous as it brings muscle balance back to the hip joint by which enables athletes to strengthen their glutes, hamstrings and inside thighs aswell as lengthening their hip flexors.

The exercises we teach are constantly training the body to be in balance. The program teaches you to engage your core while you are sitting at your desk and also teaches you about correct technique.

You learn to engage the correct muscles in the workouts so that you can then apply them during your training and when competing. The ultimate outcome is that the hip muscles work in a balanced manner so that the athlete can move efficiently and produce optimum power with a reduced likelihood of injury.

The result? You’re more efficient, pain free and your posture is improved!

Find out more about our programs at Pilates For Sports.

Noeleen O'Shea is Principal Pilates Instructor and co-creator of Pilates For Sports – an online Pilates program designed to strengthen your core, develop muscle balance and improve technique so you have reduced pain with improved performance. Partner of USA Track & Field, USA Triathlon, USA Cycling and Cycling Australia.


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