Hip Flexor Muscles
Even though they are very important to a wide variety of athletic and sporting activities played, the hip flexors are one of the most neglected major muscle groups when it comes to strength training. Finding a training program that includes hip flexor exercises is quite rare. Strengthening the hip flexor muscles just might be more beneficial than you think.
There are many obvious reasons why this muscle group is neglected. These muscles are relatively hidden deep rather than being on the surface which may be a reason why they have been ignored by bodybuilders who usually are the main contributors to strength training developing the muscles that can be seen. Secondly, there really isn’t an obvious way to train the hip flexors with free weights so they are often overlooked as an important muscle group that needs to be trained.
The Advantages of Strong Hip Flexors
Having strong hip flexors can give you an advantage in many sports and athletic activities. In sprinting, being able to raise the knees high will lead to greater stride length and therefore extensive attention should be given to training the hip flexor muscles. However, the hip flexors are usually not trained with resistance training so there is unlikely any increase in strength.
Having hip flexor strength is extremely important to many of the activities in sports like soccer and football. Trying to kick a ball is a challenging coordinated motion that involves using knee extension along with hip flexion simultaneously, so building a much stronger kick calls for exercises that are relevant to the strengthening of these particular muscle groups. Having strong hip flexors can be very beneficial when it comes to a tackling sutuation in football and in rugby.
Football and rugby players that have enormously developed quadriceps and gluteus muscles are usually unable to produce rapid knee lift and they usually tend to shuffle around the field. Possessing stronger hip flexors would noticeably improve their mobility.
It is commonly known that the difference in strength between the hip flexors and hip extensors could be a contributing factor in having hamstring injuries in many sports.
Another possible occurence from the difference in strength with the extensor/flexor muscles is the possible relationship with the relatively high occurrence of groin injuries.
There are several other sports where increase strength with the hip flexors would appear to offer advantages include rowing, cycling, and mountain climbing, especially when scaling rock faces.
The Lack of Hip Flexor Training
A big problem in developing hip flexor strength is the lack of suitable exercises. Two exercises that can help develop these muscles, hanging leg raises and incline sit-ups, are usually thought of as exercises for abs only. The problem with these exercises is in both cases the resistance is usually just provided by the exerciser’s own body weight. Because of this, these exercises are only going to be a limited when it comes to strengthening the hip flexors unless additional resistance is included.
For years, the only weighted exercise equipment that can be used has been the multi-hip type exercise machine. The exerciser pushes with the lower thigh resting against a pad which then swings in an arc. One of the difficulties with using this exercise machine is that the position of the hip joint is not fixed and thus it is hard to maintain correct form when using heavier weights or when lifting the thigh above the horizontal.
The lack of effective exercise techniques over the years for strengthening the hip flexors leads to the not knowing the full benefits that we can achieve from their overall development. With today’s technology new better designed machines are being developed to improve in strengthening these areas. Also, the ever gaining knowledge of using exercise bands, balls, cables, and functional training techniques, the lack of development for the hip flexor muscles are a thing of the past.