Hip flexors are a group of muscles surrounding the hip that provide leg stability and hip flexion. They comprise a major muscle group and are highly important to movement. Hip flexors are one of the most underdeveloped groups of muscles. Exercises in strength training frequently ignore or avoid this particular muscle group.
The primary muscles of the group are the iliacus and psoas major. Together, these muscles make up the iliopsoas. The rectus femoris is also included within the group, although it is also considered a quadricep muscle. These muscles are frequently overlooked and misunderstood, but there are few ways that these muscles can be strengthened using basic free weights.
A lack of training exercises is the most common problem besides the lack of attention towards the group. Hanging leg raises or inclined sit-ups have traditionally been used to exercise the hip flexors, but these exercises use only the participant’s body weight. Besides using ankle weights, there are few ways to increase the effectiveness of these simple exercises.
These muscles do not display the obvious outward physical changes and improvements of other muscles groups, but strength is vitally important for speed and quickness of movement. Sprinting speed can be positively affected by strong hip flexors. High knee lifts are improved by strong flexors and are associated with both improved stride length and speed. Strength of the group is also invaluable in sports or activities that require kicking a ball.
The muscle group can be a valuable asset within tackle or contact sports when an athlete run against or with the weight of another player. They are also an asset in activities such as rowing, cycling, and climbing. Hip flexors also control pelvic carriage and affect posture.
Beyond the benefits of strength, weak hip flexors can cause accident or injury. A disparity between the muscle strength of the hip flexors and gluteus muscles or quadriceps can cause increasesd susceptibility to hamstring injuries. A person with weak flexors is marked by a tendency to shuffle rather than run or move with high and rapid knee movement.
There are now many machines and apparatus that aim to strengthen the muscle group. Machines and tools attempt to use unique angles and rollers to strengthen knee and hip flexors, but there are still problems. The hip joint is not set, so it can be difficult for users to maintain proper form, which can cause strain or injury and render the exercise virtually ineffective.