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November 15, 2021 8 min read

Your hip flexors do an enormous amount of work for you, both inside and outside of the gym. Hip flexors are responsible for many movements involving lifting your legs. You use them to walk, run, kick, climb stairs, and accomplish countless other tasks.

Because you use them so often, hip flexor tension can be a real buzzkill in your life. Tightness in your hips can cause discomfort when you move around, lift weights, run, cycle, or do many other activities. If you feel tightness in your hip flexors, read on to learn more about what is happening in your body and how a simple foam roller can help.

This 3d illustration shows the hip flexor muscles on skeleton

What is a Hip Flexor?

Your  hip flexor is a group of muscles located on the front of your thigh in your pelvic area. They help you complete many movements that are crucial to your daily life, such as bending at the waist, lifting your knees, and flexing your hips. They also work to keep your posterior pelvic muscles balanced with the rest of your body.

Your hip flexors work hard all day so it is essential to keep them healthy and happy to avoid injury and see optimal results from your workout routine.

What Is Hip Flexor Tension?

Hip flexor tension is a feeling of tightness in your hip flexor muscles, usually presenting at the front of your hips or as a tugging feeling in your groin. It is essential to address hip flexor tension right away to prevent the tension from developing into a strain or more serious injury.

If you are feeling hip pain, you are not alone.

An article in the American Family Physician journal discussed the  prevalence of adult anterior hip pain, including your hip flexors.

While seeing your doctor may be in order, this article is an excellent place to learn more about managing hip flexor tension.

Common Symptoms of Hip Flexor Tension

If you are unsure if the discomfort you are experiencing is hip flexor tension, pay attention to when you feel the tightness in your hips.

Hip flexor tension typically presents in the following situations:

  • Lifting your leg while bending at the knee
  • After sitting down
  • When walking upstairs
  • During activities that require lifting your legs, such as jumping, sprinting, or kicking

Common Causes of Hip Flexor Tension

Hip flexor tension can derive from your workout, daily habits, or a combination of both.

If you are experiencing hip flexor tension, one of the following culprits may be the root of your discomfort:

  • Poor posture
  • Spending most of the day sitting down 
  • Overstretching of the hip flexor
  • Overusing the hip flexor
  • Arthritis
  • Poor walking habits
  • Vigorous activities that stress the hip flexors (cycling, gymnastics, martial arts, sports involving kicking, etc.)

Hip Flexor Tension vs. A Strain

If you feel more intense pain than we have described here, you may be experiencing a hip flexor strain. If you believe that you have a hip flexor strain, consider visiting a medical professional who can help you address the issue and prevent it in the future.

  • Common symptoms of a hip flexor strain include:
  • Sudden pain in the front of your hips
  • Pain that increases when you stretch your hip muscles
  • Muscle spasms in your thigh or hip
  • Tenderness when touching the front of your hip
  • Pain that increases when you lift your thigh towards your chest
  • Swelling or bruising at your hip or thigh area

While consulting with your medical professional for a strain is always a good idea, the following home remedies can provide relief for minor strains:

  • Rest the muscles and avoid activities that overstretch your hip flexors
  • Apply an ice pack to the area for 10-minute intervals
  • Take a hot shower or apply heat packs. Wait 72 hours after the initial injury to begin using heat.
  • Take an over the counter pain reliever
  • Gentle stretching (read on to learn how a foam roller can help!)

For more information on dealing with this injury, check out this article on tips and rehab exercises for hip flexor strains.

Foam Roller Stretches for Hip Flexor Tension


Now that you have identified your discomfort as hip flexor tension, let’s talk about what you can do to relieve your pain and prevent further injury. Your hip flexors connect to many muscles, so we can help stretch them out by targeting nearby muscles such as your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

Below are our favorite foam roller stretches to roll out your hip flexor tension:

1. Lateral Leg Foam Rolling

  1. Lay on your side with your left leg stretched out and your right leg crossed over, with your foot pressed flat to the ground. Place the foam roller under your lower body, towards the top of your left hip.
  2. Roll your body over the foam roller, moving the roller from your left hip to your left quad and down towards your left knee. Whenever you feel a tight muscle, continuously roll back and forth over the spot until you feel the tightness release.
  3. Repeat the same movement on your right leg.

2. Rolling Figure Four

  1. Sit on your foam roller, supporting your weight on your right arm outstretched behind you. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. Bring your right leg into a figure four position by bracing your ankle on the knee of your left leg.
  2. Slightly shift your weight on the foam roller into your right glute and hip area. Roll back and forth in each direction and then move in small circular motions. Whenever you feel tension, continue the movement until you feel it release. You should spend approximately 30 seconds moving back and forth and 30 seconds moving in circles.
  3. Repeat on the opposite side.

3. Quad Muscle Foam Rolling

  1. Start by lying face down with your arms supporting your upper body. Place the foam roller under your hips, at the top of your quad muscles.
  2. Roll up and down your quads. Bend and straighten your lower leg until you feel the tightness release whenever you feel a tight spot. This process should take around 20 extensions.

4. Psoas Roll

  1. Lay face down with your weight on your forearms. Place the foam roller under your left hip, perpendicular to your body. Bend your left, left knee to point the bottom of your foot towards the ceiling. Bend your right knee and place your thigh on the roller, with the bottom of your right foot pointed towards your left leg. Your body should twist slightly towards the right side.
  2. Roll up and down the front of your left hip. Stop and focus on rolling out that area until the tightness releases whenever you feel a tight spot.
  3. Repeat on your right hip.

5. Inner Thigh Foam Rolling

  1. Lay on your side with your legs stacked. Straighten your left leg on the bottom and bend your right knee above it. Place the foam roller under your inner thigh.
  2. Move your hip to push your thigh over the foam roller, moving back and forth. When you feel tightness, straighten and bend your right leg to work out the tension. Repeat the leg extensions approximately 20 times to release the tightness.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

The Importance of Stretching

Stretching is essential to avoiding injury and ensuring that you can continue performing to the best of your abilities in the gym. We know it can be tempting to skip the warmup or the cool-down when you are tight on time and fit your workout into your busy schedule, but we really can’t stress enough how important it is to make time for your stretching.

Warming Up

A solid warmup is crucial to a good workout. Your hip flexors do a lot of work during most of your workout sessions, so you want to make sure that they are ready to work. Warming up is how you prime your body for a successful workout. A foam roller is a great tool to loosen up the trigger points and tight muscles in your body, but it is not the only way to get in a good stretch before your workout.

Pair your foam roller with  dynamic stretches to warm up your body and get ready to work.

Cooling Down

Cooling down is just as crucial to maintaining the good health of your hip flexors and other muscles. A good cool-down helps stretch and release tightness in the muscles you just worked, getting them ready to work again in your next workout. While stretching and foam rolling are great ways to cool down, don’t underestimate the importance of getting a good night’s rest after your workout. 

Why We Love Foam Rollers

Foam rolling is one of our favorite ways to relieve tension throughout the body. They use your bodyweight to self-massage and open up sore muscles, with no additional equipment necessary. Foam rolling is easy for beginners to learn on their own without the help of a physical therapist or professional masseuse, making it one of the most popular ways to relieve tight spots throughout your body. Using a foam roller regularly can increase blood flow to sore or tight muscles, providing pain relief and releasing trigger points throughout your full body.

Regular completion of foam roller exercises can help you increase your range of motion and provide pain relief when you need it. Many people incorporate foam rolling into their warmup or cool-down, while others make them part of their regular workout routine. Foam rollers have become increasingly popular amongst physical therapists and Pilates enthusiasts, who understand their value to hardworking athletes.

study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise journal found that foam rolling not only reduced muscle soreness but also led to other improvements in working out, such as improved vertical jump height and muscle activation.

General Tips for Learning How to Foam Roll

Keep the following tips in mind when using your foam roller:

  • Pay attention to the tight spots in your muscles. Remember, you are looking for tight spots so that you can address them. Actively searching for them while you foam roll will help you get the most out of your foam rolling exercises.
  • Go slow. If you are rushing your foam rolling exercises, you are cheating yourself out of the best foam rolling experience.
  • Adjust the pressure if it hurts. If you feel like foam rolling is making you tighter instead of looser, adjust the amount of pressure on the roller by taking more of your body weight into your supporting arms or legs. Foam rolling is supposed to feel good, not hurt!
  • Avoid anything sharp, like your bones. Foam rolling provides relief for soft tissue and connective tissue, not your bones. Skip over your knees, elbows, spine, or other boney areas, sticking to the soft muscle that foam rolling helps relax.
  • Don’t roll over an injury. Avoid rolling over any existing injuries that you are experiencing. It is okay to roll out tension or tightness in an area, but you don’t want to roll directly on any injured spots. Rolling over an injury will only increase pain and inflammation. Instead, roll out the areas surrounding your injury instead of rolling directly over it.
  • Pair foam rolling with other stretches. Foam rolling is just one way to release tension in your body, so you will want to pair it with stretching. For example, if you are experiencing tight hip flexors, you will want to pair these foam roller exercises with a hip flexor stretch.


Now that you are ready to tackle your hip flexor pain, it’s time to grab your foam roller and get to work. These simple exercises will help you release tightness in your muscles using only your body weight and our favorite piece of warmup and cooldown equipment - the foam roller.

Add RESTED-AF to your nightly routine to enhance your recovery even further.