Using a computer, watching television, playing video games or any other activity that involves sitting will lead to a dramatic increase in the tightness of your hip flexors. Hip flexor tension causes a tightness to occur at your hips which makes general movements, such as walking, more difficult. Tension points are the spots in the hip flexor muscle that are most tight. Failure to address tension points in the hip flexors can lead to lower back and hip pain; therefore, it is important to understand how to relieve and prevent these spots.
Why Tension Points Occur
Tension points, also called myofascial adhesions, are small bundles of interconnected fascia and muscle fibers that have repaired in a non-efficient manner after injury to a muscle. These injuries can be from a strain, sprain or the repeated misuse of a muscle group. Continually sitting falls under the repeated misuse category, as the human body is designed to be in a standing position and active. Prolonged sitting causes any muscle damage to the hips flexors to be repaired in a shortened state. This is because the hip flexors are in a shortened position when you're sitting.
Relieving Tension Points
Tension-point relief can be accomplished by breaking up the myofascial adhesions. This can be done by applying direct pressure to the hip flexors and slowly moving up and down the muscle until the "trigger points" are found. Trigger points are spots on the muscle that are extremely painful when pressed and are a sign of an adhesion. When you find this spot, hold the pressure for 30 seconds and then continue pushing north or south along the hip flexor. You could use a tennis ball to help apply pressure or have a professional masseuse provide a deep tissue massage to your hip flexors.
Relieving tension points will provide short-term relief to hip flexibility and pain. A comprehensive program requires a method for preventing the adhesion points from reoccurring. If you are at a desk job or performing any other task that requires prolonged sitting, you should take a small break every 15 to 30 minutes and stand up and stretch your hips flexors. This will save your hips from a constantly flexed state all day. A 15-minute stretching routine for your hip flexors should also be performed twice per week.
The primary benefit of releasing tension points is reducing pain in your hips. Tension-point release of your hip flexors will also help restore your hip flexors to their optimal length. Optimal length in the hip flexors will prevent them from excessively pulling on your lower back and may alleviate any lower back pain you may be experiencing. Tension-point release also allows the muscles of your hip flexors to work more efficiently. This can prevent hip flexor-related strains and sprains.