T Nation

Hip flexors in relation to squatting


I have a question that I hope that some of you can clear up for me. I have read many articles and discussiond regarding indivual limitations with the squatting motion. In many of these, lack of ankle mobility and hip flexor flexibility are cited as contributing factors to limitation in ROM. I can see where lacking adequete dorsiflexion of the ankle joint can be limiting, but am not quite following where tight hip flexors would hinder progress. During descent, hip flexion is occuring and is eccentrically controlled by the hip extensors. I know that with the rectus femoris, it is lengthening at the knee joint, but is still shortening at the hip joint which would compensate for a passive insufficency. I am probably thinking about this too hard and my methods of research class is eating my brain, so there may be a very simple explanation that I am overlooking. Any help or feedback would be greatly appreciated.



I don't think hip flexor tightness limits squatting ROM...... where did you hear that?


Some articles that I have read on this site and in discussions on the board reference hip flexors in squatting. I also seen in descriptions of the box squat where one of the steps is to "relax the hip flexors" while in seated position. I am not quite understanding where the hip flexors come into play other than the rectus femoris as as knee extensor vs. hip flexor. If any of the t-mag coaches on online, I would really appreciate some clarification on this.


Yes, it can. The psoas major and minor originate on the T12-L5 vertebrae, their intervertebral discs, and the base of the sacrum. That said, when these muscles are tight, the lumbar spine is pulled forward (accentuated lordosis); you'll actually see the belly start to protrude. Essentially, what happens is that the individual is trying to keep the weight back as the midsection is sliding forward excessively. More than mechanical limitation of ROM, it's a matter of balance. You can only get so contorted with weight on your back. As such, the individual has to limit ROM to losing his/her balance and having to dump the load.

Also, the iliacus originates on the ilium: the upper portion of the pelvis. Pull this forward due to tightness (along with the RF), and you have anterior pelvic tilt. With APT, the glutes basically move up; it becomes difficult to sit back into your squat. Therefore, the movement turns into a good morning with exaggerated knee flexion as you approach the deep position.

Hope this helps.


very much so. Thanks a lot for the response Eric.



Any fixes for these issues?


Stretch the hip flexors and strengthen the glutes and core.



I was hoping you might have some earth shaking nugget of golden information but thanks anyway. Your explanation was helpful enough. I was beginning to wonder why I was losing my ROM with squats and now I know why.


Thanks again for the response Eric. So let me make sure I am understanding you correctly. What you are saying by your post is that it is not the motion itself which takes you into a postion where the hip flexors limit you, but that by having an exaggerated APT normally, this throws off your balance. That makes sense. I was always confused by that because I have read many times that hip flexor tightness limited squatting ability, but could not understand why since hip flexion is not resisted during the movement.


Sorry to disappoint, Brian. You never know, though; I might come up with something in nice article form down the line for this:)