Hip Flexibility For Runners Mar 10 2018

When training for a marathon it is important to take the time to stretch out your quads and hip flexors (anterior hip muscles).  Most of us spend long hours sitting at a desk for work, so these muscles are in a shortened position every day and will adapt to this habitual resting length. When you then try to extend the hip when running, the tightness in these muscles will restrict your stride length and alter the way you load through your lower back and stabilize through your pelvis. 

If the anterior hip muscles are short and tight, they will restrict the hip joint from extending as your stride length increases when you run.  Instead of extending the leg from the hip,  the body will compensate by extending through the next joint up instead – the lower back. This causes increased compression through the extended lower back joints when landing on  the supporting leg, and can aggravate low back pain. The compression to the lower back joints can cause low level  irritation to the nerves that supply the legs as they exit from the lower back leading to calf and hamstring tightness.

If the anterior hip muscles that attach to the front of the pelvis are tight, as the leg goes behind you during running the pelvis is pulled forward and the muscles that stabilize the pelvis and control the alignment of the leg in stance phase are put on a stretch and cannot work properly.  The leg will then roll inwards and the body will use the inner thigh muscles (adductors), hip flexors and /or TFL and IT band to stabilize instead of using the gluts (that hold the leg in the correct alignment).  The supporting knee will roll inwards and there is an altered pull on the kneecap with increased compression. This can lead to iliotibial band syndrome (friction of the IT band due to increased tension) and/or anterior knee pain (pain in or around the knee cap) and /or fat pad irritation just below the knee cap.


To avoid these problem, stretch your quads and hip flexors daily and use a foam roller to help release them out.  When stretching these muscles, make sure you keep your pelvis level and do not “cheat” by arching the lower back and allowing the pelvis to tip forward. 

For more information or to book an appointment with one of our expert physiotherapists call: 020 3488 2244 or email: admin@executivephysiotherapy.co.uk

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