T Nation

Beyond Extremely Tight Hip Flexor and Groin Muscle


…please help…I’ve been taking karate for 3 years now and due to 30+ years of inactivity my hips are beyond extremely tight. I feel like trying to do anything with my hips is like trying to bend burnt bacon, which is not good when karate is predominantly about hip rotation. To make a long story short, I have tried everything to loosen my hips so that I can get my kicks higher and nothing has worked. As much stretching that I do on a daily basis I wouldn’t think it would still hurt to start stretching every time but it does…I need to loosen up quick, like real quick as I have a Blackbelt test coming up and I don’t want to embarrass myself with lower then par kicks


What does your stretching routine look like right now?


You got to black belt in just three years? Interesting school.

Like German said, your current routine is definitely worth reviewing. Stretching, weight training, cardio, everything. Also, height, weight, and general fat level for context.

This article talks in-depth about assessing the hips. Also, consider mobility vs flexibility. It’s a common mistake, but you might need to address simple mobility instead of overfocusing on stretching.


At Bob Sagits DoJo of the truely gifted and special everyone gets a black belt. I suggest doing the 5am yoga that comes on after the infomercials on ABC and stations like that.

All kidding aside look up a mobility wod


Thank you all for the recommendations, I know 3 years doesn’t sound like much but I only started taking my journey at that time…my wife has been doing it for the past 8 years, my oldest son for 6 years and my youngest son for 5…I have the uke and training partner for all of them through their journeys…so yes it may seem accelerated but i was pretty much well aware of the forms and techniques…I know I don’t owe an explanation but felt the need to defend it…now routine…
Mondays: gym around corner from work, I work exercises focusing on chest for my lunch hour…after work go to Dojo and train for 3 hours
Tuesdays: before work go to Dojo and work a Murph training style workout…lunch hour run to Dojo for noon class…after work fight training at Dojo for 2 hours
Wednesdays: pretty much same as Monday except I work arms at the gym
Thursdays: same as Tuesdays
Fridays: same as Monday and Wednesday except I work legs at the gym and get an extra hour training at the Dojo
Saturday and Sunday: rest

I’m doing a lot of strength training and trying to build up enough cardiovascular because I’m going to need every ounce I have to make it through the 3 day test with only 5 hours sleep each night…I need a stretch routine that I can fit in before going to bed or first thing I get up in the morning…as you can see its not much of “what is my stretch routine” as it is a lack of a routine.

I have tried some simple yoga stretches (downward dog, lizard, dragon) and simple regular stretches (straddle, butterfly) but like I said, after daily squeezing in and not seeing any results proved to be discouraging…I’ve been trying also to find ways to stretch while I am at my desk without standing up and attempting a split stretch without half the office walking by and thinking I’m crazy…


Ying and Yang Bro!

If the hips are tight, look to the glutes. The glutes moves the legs. The hip flexors work in opposition support the glutes. Years of inactivity make your glutes shitty, so the muscles of the groin and hip flexors take over to do they job. They are not really designed to be used this way. Every time you kick, you’re making your hips and groin tighter. You can stretch all you want, but every time you move improperly, you cause those muscles to get tight again.

You have got to get your lower body working correctly again.

Put a resistance band thru your lifting belt, and walk side to side like this

This will force your glutes to work to support your pelvis. Do this a bunch.

In the morning, walk around barefoot with ankle weights on. The weights are just heavy enough that you have to take each step properly. They will make you aware of where your toes, ankles, and knees are. All of that is handled by your glutes.

If wearing ankle weights sounds weird, pretend you’re some kind of Ancient monk karate student taking 1000 steps in knee deep water.

For strength and endurance, you should be sled dragging. Its awesome. Attach the sled to your lifting belt, and drag it around with a power-walking, almost alternating lunge style step. Every step targets your glutes, while challenging your endurance and building your legs. Each time you drive off with your Glute, that hip flexor is stretched.


Thank you so much sir


When it works for you, I’m going to add Karate Blackbelt to my list of satifisfied clients.



Awesome…these exercises will help with my problem? The first picture (horse stance) is something we do quite often and burns like fire when we get stuck in the stance…it takes a lot of time and movement for me to get warmed up to be able to sink into that stance good and properly…you know of any repetitive exercises I can do throughout the day whIle I’m at my desk?


A deep body weight squat but good luck doing those in business pants.

Edit: FlatsFarmer offered some good advice but something you can start immediately while working on getting bands or a belt - deep body weight squats, static stretches, and maybe some light yoga work right when you wake up can do wonders on mobility and flexibility. Right when I wake up I start with 10 deep body weight squats (like ass an inch away from ground) with a 5 second pause at the bottom. I’ll also do some low back lunges, hamstring stretches, quad stretches, and groin stretches (Google is your friend on finding some good stretches). I also do some calisthenics to fire up my muscles and get the blood flowing before stretching. It takes about 10-15 minutes max. The only downside is if you get a bad nights sleep and wake up sluggish, it’s gonna be difficult to motivate yourself. After stretching, take a cold shower and get the day started.

Edit on my edit: Cold showers don’t impact flexibility or mobility - just suggest it cause men take cold showers.


I could probably incorporate those into my morning workout before I go to work…thanks


Good luck and keep us posted on your progress, as well as your black belt test. And remember, you reap what you sow. Sometimes you get results immediately, most of the time it takes a bit of patience. Consistency is the key to a better body.


Thank you so much German…I truly appreciate the direction. I will start doing these exercises first thing in the morning and continue doing it. Time is of the essence…I have to be in my best shape to be judged by a panel of 14 Blackbelts ranging from 1st degree to 9th degree from different schools and different styles…as I know 3 days will wear me out, I want to be able to get through as much as I can before muscle fatigue and mental tiredness start to set in.


Think about your posture while you sit. If your hips slump out in front of you, and your knees are below your hips, you’re going to be supporting yourself with your crotch muscles. This is bad. Sit upright, and think about using your glutes and hamstrings to pull your knees out, and your hips directly under your ribs. It will be hard to feel at first, but keep after it.

From there, you can do a seated Psoas hold. Basically, sit with good posture, knees out, spine neautral. Then, lift one knee up and hold it. At first this will be very bad. Your back might over-arch, or you may get a painful pulling, burning, cramping feeling in your hip flexor. This means you are doing the exercise wrong! You must learn to use the muscles on the outside of your hips. Again, at first you won’t be able to tell what I’m talking about, but you have to keep after it.


Thank you Flats…I will definitely keep after it…it means a lot to me to be able to break through this barrier.


A black belt in Karate is considered the start of advanced training which is why it is earned years sooner than in BJJ.

I have a hip impingement from hell and kicking, which i rarely do anymore, helps me get some ROM back.


Whats up man?

Are you making any progress? Are your hips feeling any better?