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Your hip flexors are among the most important groups of muscles in the body.  They are necessary for the long term mobility and stability of your lower body and directly correlate with back health.  Prolonged sitting causes your hip flexors to get tight and then when you stand, it pulls on your lumbar spine, which leads to a multitude of lower back problems.  In order for you to understand how this happens, you must first learn a little bit about your hip flexors.

What/Where are your hip flexors?

Two major muscles of the hip flexors are called the iliacus and psoas, collectively called the iliopsoas.  These muscles originate from the front of the lumbar spine and iliac crest of the pelvis.  They run through the abdomen and attach to your thigh bone (femur).  Your iliopsoas is predominantly a postural stabilizing muscle, which keeps your hips and lower back correctly aligned.  Shortening of theses muscles can lead to compensatory movement patterns in the joints and muscles of the pelvis and lower back.  Examples of these dysfunctions include excessive anterior pelvic tilt or increased arching of the low back.  Hip flexor tightness often goes ignored, but it is one of the leading causes of lower back and hip pain due to its direct attachments to both.  Keeping it stretched out can help prevent back and hip pain.

How to stretch your hip flexors?

To perform this stretch, kneel with one knee on the ground (you can use a towel underneath it for a cushion).  As you lean forward, it is very important that you keep your back straight.  In order to intensify the stretch, you should tuck your tailbone underneath you (pelvic tilt) in order to flatten your back.  As you lean forward, you should try to maintain that flattened back.  The stretch is typically felt deep into the front of your hip.  It is recommended that you hold this stretch 60 seconds and repeat 2-3 times a day.