Hip flexors play a much larger part in the body’s overall health and function than they get credit for. They play a crucial role in necessary, everyday activities. Every time you walk, go up the  stairs or lift your legs in any way, your hip flexors have to engage. That said, keeping the hip flexors healthy is necessary to improve your overall physical health and reduce or prevent chronic pain.

What Are My Hip Flexors?

The hip flexors are a group of muscles in your hips responsible for activating a flexion movement, which allows you to pull your legs upward towards your torso. The word flexion means pulling together, and flexor muscles pull two bones together by contracting.

In the case of the hip flexors, when they contract, they pull the leg bones towards the hip and spine at your hip joint. If you want to see your hip flexors live in action, stand up and lift your leg off the ground, pulling your knee towards your torso without using your arms to help. That motion is only possible because of your hip flexors. In case you haven’t noticed, the last paragraph’s point was to emphasize how vital your hip flexors are.

Because they play such an essential role in our everyday lives, we have to take care of them.

How Does Sitting Affect My Hip Flexor Health?

The hip flexors are not activated when seated, but instead, they are resting in an unnatural position. As previously mentioned, when a muscle contracts, it pulls two bones together. This pull typically happens through bending at a joint. When sitting down, the legs and torso are pulled together, but the hip flexors aren’t activated. Prolonged sitting can lead to the shortening of the hip flexors themselves, causing tightness and pain.

The Chain Reaction

Every day that you spend sitting down tightens your hip flexors further and further. Suppose you aren’t someone that has a regular exercise routine or purposefully goes on walks or runs. In that case, you will notice that every day you spend sitting at your desk will increase your hip pain and tightness. Generally, it starts with a feeling of tight soreness in your hips, causing limited range of motion and poor posture. From there, typically, the glutes weaken as well. Because the glute is in charge of performing the opposite movement from the hip flexors, the glute muscle is “turned off” when seated.

As the glute weakens, the hamstrings try to pick up the slack and become tight and sore. Many people start to experience chronic pain in the lower back, hips, and hamstrings due to this imbalance. Other side effects can include poor circulation and bowel function, misalignment of the spine and knees, fatigue, jaw pain, and headaches.

Long story short, not taking care of your hip flexor health can affect virtually every other function of your body.

How do I Fix or Avoid This?

A great way to keep your hip flexors healthy is to balance out the amount of time you spend sitting. You can accomplish this balance by exercising regularly and taking the time to walk or stand throughout the day. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time to exercise for an hour every day or to take 2-minute walking breaks every hour at work. Another, more viable option to keep your hip flexors healthy is transitioning from sitting to standing and back while working using a sit-stand desk.

What Is a Sit-Stand Desk?

Sit-stand Desks are office tools that allow the user to transition between working sitting down and working standing up easily. By intermittently standing throughout the day, you allow your body to be in its most natural position – upright – and allow your hip flexors to function properly.

You can also use the desk to incorporate movement as well. Doing stationary activities such as squats and leg lifts will work the crucial muscles in your legs, keeping them from weakening when you spend time sitting down. Some desks have built-in software that can also help you track your standing and movement throughout the day so that you can ensure maximum benefits when using sit-stand tools.

Keeping your hip flexors healthy can save you from a lifetime of chronic pain and other health issues.

Originally published on standata.com