Stop Stretching Your Hip Flexors! (HERE’S WHY)

What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Today we’re going to talk all about the
hip flexors. More importantly, whether or not you should
be stretching yours, or leaving them alone. As a matter of fact, you might want to be
doing the exact opposite. That is, strengthening them. I’m going to show you today how to test
whether yours are tight, or weak, and figure out what is a better route for you to go if
you want to get rid of the issues that are being caused by your hip flexors right now. All right, the first thing that needs to be
cleared up is a little bit of anatomy. Not to bore you, but it’s really important
here. When we talk about the hip flexors it’s
not a single muscle group. There are actually five muscles that are responsible
for flexing the hip. Three of them – the TFL, the Rectus Femoris,
which is one of the quad muscles, and the Sartorius, which is more of a groin muscle
– they all attach at the level of the hip to the iliac crest. So, they can only really flex the hip up to
the level of the hip. But the two that we’re really concerned
about are the ones that bring it up higher than that. Which is the Soas and the Iliacus. Those are the two where, when we talk about
“Oh, my hip flexors feel tight”, those are the ones we’re really talking about
because when they’re tight you usually get a lot of back pain. You can see why. The muscles of the Soas here attach to all
the lumbar vertebrae. They literally go through the body and attach
the lumbar vertebrae. So, when these are tight they could actually
be pulling on your lumbar spine and causing all kinds of issues. So, we need to get to the bother of whether
or not it’s a tightness that’s causing the issues here in your back, or whether or
not it’s a weakness. Again, the recommendations are going to be
drastically different, depending upon which of those two it is. So, let’s start off by testing the flexibility
in the hip. We want to make sure there is a tightness
here before you start stretching it. A lot of times what we’re really hiding
is more of a weakness, instead of a tightness. But we can do that very easily with a quick
test. You sit at the edge of a bench here – about
mid-thigh – then you’re going to lay back, pull both knees up, and then drop one down. You want to make sure right off the bat that
your low back flat here because what you’re looking for is to see whether or not this
leg, the one that’s down, is in contact with the surface you’re on, or whether it’s
flailing up in the air like this. The second thing you want to look for is whether
or not the knee itself is capable of bending. Really, ideally, down to about 80, or 90 degrees. Or is it more extended, like this? Or it could be combination of both because
what we want to determine now is, if we are in some position here where it’s off the
surface here, and we have the inability to get our knee fully bent, we know we have some
tightness. But is it a quad tightness? The Rectus Femoris that we talked about? Or is it more of an actual hip flexor? What you would do is, with the knee floating
in this position you would ask the person – or you would do it yourself – you’d
just straighten out the knee. If, by straightening the knee the leg goes
down fully in contact with the surface here, that means you have more of a quad tightness,
or a rectus tightness. When you took the quad off the stretch and
relieved it, then I was able to go down, then everything else was loose enough to get down. If, on the other hand, when you do this and
nothing changes, or certainly doesn’t get down to the level of the bench, now you’ve
got a true hip flexor tightness. In which case, that’s when you want to actually
start using your hip flexor stretches to attack that. But a lot of times when you see this yourself
you may realize, “You know what? I really don’t have a tightness.” And that’s when it starts to come back,
where I said in the beginning, your manifesting something far different. You’re probably manifesting a weak hip. I’m going to show you how to test for that
now, too. So, let’s say you didn’t have a tightness,
but you still feel that there’s something off in your hip. It’s what’s causing you to really always
want to stretch it. By the way, when you stretch it, if you tend
to get a little bit of temporary relief, but then an hour later things are actually worse
than they were before; you’re likely dealing even more with what we’re going to talk
about right now. That is a weak hip flexor. Then all you’re doing is stretching it and
making it worse. So what you want to do is have a way to test
that on you. We can do that very simply. Take a box – any surface that allows your
knee to be higher than your hip when you put your foot on it. Then what we want to do from here is lift
off that surface. So, stand upright. Put your hands behind your head so you can’t
cheat. We don’t want to lean toward it. We don’t want to bring our chest to the
knee. We want to be able to bring our knee up to
our chest. See if you can hold it up here for 15 seconds. So, lift off that surface so your hip is as
high as you can flex it actively, and then from here, see if you can hold it. If you start to get a cramp in the outside
of your hip – which would be in the tenser area, here – that’s a good indication
that you have a weakness in this muscle group here. It’s asking for help from another muscle
down below that isn’t really equipped to do what you’re asking it to do. Which is, flex above 90 degrees. If you remember back to the anatomy we showed
earlier the ones that attached at the level of the hip are good at flexing you to that
level. But they’re not so good at flexing you above. So, by putting ourselves in this position
here, where our knee is already above 90 degrees, now the only thing we can do is either use
that Iliacus, or the Soas to try to get us up here. That’s where you’re going to find a good
weakness if it exists. The other thing we can do is, we don’t have
to use this at all. We could just stand right here and pull the
leg as high as we can, and then dynamically let it go. When we let it go, if I can’t keep it here
in this position, like that, if it drops and catches – guess where? At 90 degrees. Well, that’s the level at which it got a
little bit of assistance from those other three muscles that are helping on that level. But I don’t have the strength to be able
to take it up above the 90-position and hold it up above 90. So that would be a good indication. If you hold it here, and you drop it, and
you can’t hold it, you can’t stop the leg until it gets to the level of 90. So, let’s say that’s the case. What would you do? Well, that’s an instance where the test
becomes the exercise. You could actually go back into this position
here and do leg lifts right from here. So, I’m in this position, I’m above 90,
I want to strengthen the hip flexors, I put my arms up behind my head, and I do leg lifts
in that position. I try to do that, and hold that, either for
time, or for reps. I can also take it up a notch by taking a
band, anchoring it down to something low here, wrapping it around the foot this way, and
then I’ve got a resisted lift here, to adding more strength as our hip flexors begin to
start getting stronger. The key is this, guys: you want to find out
right off the bat. You’re going to test both sides. Do you actually have a hip flexor tightness? Because if you don’t and you stretch it,
you’re going to make your problems worse. If you’re having back pain during ab exercises
you’re going to make that back pain worse. If you’re just having tightness and a general
feeling of something that’s off in the hip, that’s going to get worse if you keep doing
that. On the other hand, if you have a weakness
and you don’t address it, nothing’s going to get better. So you want to find out which of the two you’re
dealing with. If it is a tightness then, yes, the stretches
are going to be appropriate. But if they’re not, you want to avoid them. If you have to, guys, I always say, “You’ve
got to own it”. Own this. If you have a hip flexor weakness then you’ve
got to own this, and you’ve got to start doing stuff about it. As a matter of fact, maybe you’re not doing
enough explosive training. That’s a good argument for getting outside
and doing some sprints to actually train, to start using those hip flexors above 90
degrees, in a more explosive way. If you’re looking for a training program
that puts it all out there and puts all together so we overlook nothing in our training, that’s
what ATHLEANX is all about. You can get our ATHLEANX training system over
at In the meantime, I hope you found the video
helpful. Make sure you leave your comments and thumbs
up below. Let me know what you want me to cover and
I’ll do my best to do that for you. As you can see, or hear, the voice is still
not back, but that does not stop me from bringing the goods here to you guys, each and every
week with our videos. So, pardon me for the voice, but I hope you
got some good information from this. All right, guys. I’ll see you soon.

100 thoughts on “Stop Stretching Your Hip Flexors! (HERE’S WHY)”

  1. Want to win an ATHLEAN-X program for free, no strings attached? Click the link below to find out how!

  2. Two videos about the same issue saying something completely different.
    My recommendations, train and stretch your whole body, your weak muscles will improve faster than your already strong ones. If it doesn't get better, seek help from a physiologist. These videos are great, but don't follow the advices on an autopilot mode…there is always a possibility that you're the exception to the rule.

  3. What happpens if I have tightness, AND weakness? I couldn’t touch the surface and I couldn’t hold or lift my leg at all… please help

  4. You legend! I have been concentrating on flexibility and stretching for months only to get another back spasm. I actually have very weak flexors. THANK YOU!

  5. Does it mean anything specific if you hear a noise/feel something in the hips when putting the leg down on the first test, almost like something grinding or bumping on it’s way down?

  6. Doing these tests is appears that i have both issues. That was never addressed having weak and tight flexors. I guess ill do stretches and strengthening to see if I gain any relief from pain in and out of the gym.

  7. I did those exercises in the video and I felt tightness in my inside of my groin/hip flexor.. any idea of what that might be

  8. Doing this exercise made me realize how my body might be a little unbalanced. Right hip flexor felt weak and the other was tight.

  9. What if when doing the knee ups it hurts, what should i do? (When i release it i can’t keep it up and it hurts)

  10. I passed both of these tests so not tight and not weak. I get hip pain on and off. My doctor says it is "snapping hip" Any ideas? Thanks for the great videos!

  11. Once again, a great video!!! Have a karate student talking about pain in one of our exercises involving the leg. I was suspicious of a weak muscle in the hip area. Now I know how to test what she needs to concentrate on.

  12. Amazing hip was hurting fixed it by stretching my quads. I realize now I should probably be doing full body yoga on one of my off days

  13. It's kinda scary to watch this dude's video sometimes because you know you're about to find out that you're fucking up somewhere

  14. Believe I passed both the flexibility and the strength test in this vid (my 2nd leg was flat or almost flat – for flexibility – and i had no trouble keeping my legs above the 90 degree angle – for strength)… yet I have APT… ?primarily down to weak glutes perhaps :s?

  15. I know this will probably never get seen but just want to show my utter most thankfulness for your content. Been watching for years and this video and the shoulder impingement video when bench pressing have made a callosal difference to my workout and life. Thank you sir 👍

  16. When completing this exercise to strengthen the hip flexor is it expected for the tightness/cramp to be on the opposing side?

  17. Love this information. But my hips can handle this exercise, yet I still get back pains when I do ab exercises on the floor.

  18. Jeff HELP … when i do that movement to the knee to chest and let one hang after … When i put my left leg down when i gets close to bottom it pops in my left hip…

  19. Too much blah, blah, blah about the problem(s) but basically nothing about what to do to make me feel better, I guess that's a different video…

  20. I love your videos. Great stuff. I’m a masters swimmer at age 64. I compete but now have a rotator cuff tear. Since you are a physio therapist, would you give me some physio therapy suggestions? Thanks

  21. Ohh I regularly do explosive sprint conditioning training no wonder my hip flexors are strong even though I always curl my pelvic in lower abs I’m glad

  22. I don't seem to have a tightness or a weakness for once lol. I generally feel tight in the hip when sitting for a while but maybe that's just natural.

  23. Whilst you are adressing problems I am mystified as to why you does not offer an easy to do stretch.
    Stretching is rarely a bad thing – weakness + tightness is often one and the same and what is required is stretching for availability.

    'the muscle asking for help from another muscle' hence cheating.
    Just do the quad + hip stretch it's massive. Sit down on a soft mat on your knees, lean backwards, catching yoursel with your arms but keeping primary pressure on the quads+hips.
    Tilt the hip forward, feel where it stretches, perhaps lift and reach to one side with either arm to stretch the sides of the hip.
    As you get more of an open hip, from sitting on the knees + catching with arms, go down to the elbow position. Same thing, feel for whre it stretches, push out the hip, using glute flex.

    Max stretch is when your upper body is on the floor as you 'sit' but lie on the floor…. I nowadays do this on an office chair.. sitting on my legs but with the knees pointing downwards the floor (sitting on the edge of the chair)… lean backwards, catching yourself with the hands.
    'Melt' the hip.

    Call me a conspiracy theoirist but google results on stretching benefits are definitely lacking but my life experience tells a different story.
    Stretching benefits include a 'full recovery' to the next days, no tension as you would otherwise have, no pain.
    Flushing out all the waste products store in the muscles.
    Breaking the stress pattern (psychological stress within the muscle, muscle memory, literally), making your muscles more easily readily available the comings days but also as your body becomes open, so does your mind. (Why does all the yoga people look so relaxed hm? give it a shot, forgive your enemies and youself, it's all in your head, you are in control!!! but drink plent so that the blood is thin)
    Stretching also removes inflamation, especially seen in the long term.
    Stretching gives me inner peace and helping me reach spiritual levels.

  24. Very good video, thanks! I can keep my knee up, so guess tight. But what I noticed is when standing on one leg with the other lifted to 90, I cannot then extend and straighten that leg, it's physically impossible to do so, why would that be?!

  25. I did both tests and I have neither a tightness nor a weakness. I still feel a lot of pain and sorness in my hip flexors all the time 🙁 Good video thou 🙂

  26. I typically like all of his videos only he over talks on this one and makes it confusing. Make a simple statement and slow down. Easy.

  27. Did both tests, according to both tests my hip flexors are not weak nor right, yet…. they hurt for days in my left leg after squatting. Now i am really confused.

  28. 1:53 how to tell what area its coming from? Hip flexors, weak or stuck Qi meridians? Great explanations and tips!

  29. You are brilliant and explain it all so well. Really medical doctors dont know why your having all the issues, pain…weakness. Even physical therapist wont help you LEARN ALL THIS! I am going to do all these and watch this again.

  30. Would weak hip flexors contribute to APT? I have APT and I’m trying to correct it but I don’t want to make it worse. Your videos are extremely helpful!!

  31. This video was so necessary! Thank you. I'm a cross country runner who was always told my hip flexors were tight. It took several years/seasons to realize they were wrong. It's weakness. That's why it was recurring each season despite focusing on strething.

  32. How often should we do hip flexor strengthening? I could barely keep my right leg up for more than three seconds. The left leg was fine

  33. Thank you. Very profession video. I am a yoga instructor and after both test, I felt neither weak or tight. I mostly have pain in my hip flexor after bending over, straight-legged with hands to the ground. Thoughts?

  34. What if I can't bring my knee up that high at all because it feels like it's blocked in a "mechanical" way rather than weak?

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