Tips & Exercises For Dancer Hip Flexor Pain & Hip Tightness

Hip flexor pain is a common injury among dancers – not just pole dancers. It results from over-stretching or over-extending the muscle fibers, which causes muscle tears. 

The muscle tears result in hip pain, affecting the front groin area, the edge of the pelvic bone, or the top of your butt.

It’s never a nice experience. So, what are the causes, how do you deal with it, and what exercise can you do to improve your hip flexor pain?

Causes of Hip Flexor Pain in Dancers

Sudden Movements

Sudden, sharp contractions of the muscles during pole tricks or dance transitions are the most common causes of hip flexor injury. 

This problem is often because you didn’t warm up your muscles before attempting pole tricks or complex moves. In addition, it could also be caused by over-extension of the muscle during pole movements like pole sits and pole tucks.

Repetitive Movement 

Repetitive movement or use of your hip bone can also cause hip flexor injuries. You’re likely to suffer this injury if you do a lot of bending or hip-related movements, especially if working on a warehouse floor.

Read Also: Inner Thigh Pain Treatment and Healing Tips

Limb Misalignments

Misalignments affecting the feet or knees can also cause hip flexor injuries. You’re also more likely to suffer this injury due to general weakness in the thigh, hip, buttocks, or core. 

For the latter, you can strengthen yourself by engaging in strength exercises to build your core and other areas.

Wrong Approach to Strength Training

Strength training is important for building core strength and strengthening your muscles. But it can also be detrimental when not done right.

It’s important to get each exercise right and to pay attention to each area of your strength training and stretches to get the best results.

Are My Hips Tight? Diagnosing Hip Tightness 

Hip tightness is a common response to injury, muscle overuse, or stress. It’s more common among dancers (and pole dancers) because of the repetitive hip flexing and rotation during moves.

Here are steps to diagnose hip tightness.

  1. Lay down on a table. Ensure your butt is at the table’s edge, and let your legs hang off the table’s edge.
  2. Pull your knees to your chest and hold them in position with your arms.
  3. Release one of your legs and let it return to the hanging position. (Get someone to observe your knee’s position from the hanging leg in relation to your hip). 

Your knee should hang easily below the edge of the table.

  1. If your knee remains above the table’s edge or in line with it, then you have tight hips. But if your knee hangs easily below the edge of the table, then you’re fine.

Read Also: Returning To Pole After An Injury: Expert Help!

Exercises for Hip Flexor Pain and Hip Tightness

3-Way Leg Swings (Dynamic Stretching) 

  1. Leg Swings Forward and Back, 
  2. Leg Swings Sideways, 
  3. Leg Swings at 45-Degrees Angle 

Watch the video below for a practical guide.

90 90 Kneeling Stretch with Arm Overhead 

  1. Start in a 90-90 kneeling position. 
  2. Keep your hips, knee, and ankle in a 90-degree position. 
  3. Flatten out the back foot on the ground to intensify the stretch. 
  4. Tighten up the abdominal area and bring your arm overhead. 
  5. Contract your glutes and bring the hips forward; look for a light stretch in front of your thigh (rectus femoris) and pelvis area (iliacus muscle). 
  6. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds and then perform the stretch on the opposite leg. 
  7. Do this stretch twice on each leg.

Watch the video below for a practical guide.

On Back Knees In and Out (Dynamic Stretching) 

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Drop the knees from side to side. 
  3. To intensify the stretch, you can further separate the feet and do the side-to-side knee drops. 
  4. Hold each drop for 2 seconds with 5 repetitions on each side. 

Read Also: Heel & Ankle Warm Up Exercises

Front to Side Plank With Leg Kicks 

  1. Go into a front plank position; keep the rest of your body aligned. 
  2. Roll over to the side and prop your body up.
  3. Make a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles, hold this side plank position for 2 seconds, and return to the front plank position. 
  4. Transition into a side plank on your other side; ensure your body is aligned. 
  5. To make it more challenging, you can add leg kicks when doing the front plank position or bring the leg up to the side when doing the side plank position. 

Watch the video below for a practical guide.

Glute Strengthening 

When stretching your hips, remember that one of the best ways to open up and lengthen your hip flexors is by strengthening its opposing muscle group (your glutes).

This is because the hip flexors are often so tight that stretching them directly can be too traumatic to the muscle, making it difficult to relax your nerves enough to give you the benefit of the stretch. 

Read Also: 10 Common Pole Dancing Mistakes (+How To Fix Them)

To stretch your hip flexors by strengthening your glutes;

  1. Start in a tabletop position and do donkey kickbacks while keeping your hips square. Whenever you do a rep, think about it: lengthening and opening your hip flexors even more. 
  2. Do that for 4 reps, then pulse at the top of the movement for another 4 reps. 
  3. Rest and repeat for two more sets.
  4. Follow up with a deep lunge, then a Pigeon pose. Once the Pigeon pose feels easy, begin incorporating the couch stretch. 

To address the unevenness of your hips, stretch your lower back, particularly the sides of your lower back and your oblique. This will release the tightness and tension in the hips. You can follow up by working on your splits to stabilize your pelvis and restore it to its neutral position.

Tips for Preventing Hip Flexor Pain and Hip Tightness

Warm Up!

Muscle warm-ups prepare your body for strenuous and dynamic moves.  I recommend proper warm-up exercises to improve your hip flexibility and hip strength.

Some general warm-up exercises for preventing hip tightness and hip flexor pain include;

Hip Flexibility Exercises like deep squats and butterfly stretches. 

For your deep squats, squat down to an almost sitting position with your back straight and your weight on your heels. Place your elbows on the inner side of each knee to improve stability and prevent your knees from buckling in.

For butterfly stretch, sit with your back straight while the soles of your feet touch each other. Lower your knees to the ground as far as you can. 

Read Also: Pole Dancing and Surgery: How Soon to Return?

Hip Strength Exercises like knee-to-elbow exercises, straight leg raises, and leg extensions.

For knee-to-elbow exercise, take a push-up stance, pull your belly button into your spine, and contract your abdominal muscles to increase core stability. Then, bring your knee forward until it touches your right elbow. Do the same for the left knee and left elbow. Continue to alternate back and forth for a minute, then rest for 30 seconds and repeat.

For straight leg raises, sit on the edge of a chair or do it while lying down. Lift one leg three to four inches off the ground and hold it straight for 5 seconds. Do for the other leg. Repeat for 15 to 20 times.

For leg extensions, take an all-fours position, extend one leg backward, raise it 3 to 4 inches above the ground, and hold it straight for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat for the other leg 15 to 20 times before resting. 


R.I.C.E. means Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.

After long dance rehearsals and pole practice, rest your muscles as much as possible and Ice the muscles that hurt. You should also prioritize Compression and Elevation for the best outcomes.

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