What are the hip flexor muscles?

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Hip flexors are the muscle that allows your knee to be raised up to your chest. In this video, Juan Raposo, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, reveals ways to strengthen these muscles, like walking and swimming.

Dr. Mike Clark, DPT
Fitness Specialist

Located at the lower portion of the spine and top of the hip, hip flexor muscles insert into the upper middle portion of the thigh (femur). They help bend (flex) the hip and rotate the thigh externally.

Mrs. Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

The hip flexors are a group of skeletal muscles that act to flex the femur (thigh bone) onto the lumbo-pelvic complex, i.e., pull the knee upward.

The hip flexors are (in descending order of importance to the action of flexing the hip joint):[1]

Collectively known as the iliopsoas or inner hip muscles:

  • Psoas major
  • Psoas minor
  • Iliacus muscle
Anterior compartment of thigh
  • Rectus femoris (part of the quadriceps muscle group)
  • Sartorius

    One of the gluteal muscles:

    Tensor fasciae latae

    Medial compartment of thigh

    • Pectineus
    • Adductor longus
    • Adductor brevis
    • Gracilis

    Without the iliopsoas muscles, flexion in sitting position is not possible across the horizontal plane.

    Rick Olderman
    Physical Therapy Specialist

    The tensor fascia lata (TFL), quadriceps, and sartorius muscles comprise what I call the big three hip flexors. These muscles are often overlooked in rehabilitation with more focus placed on a fourth hip flexor, the iliopsoas. In my opinion, though, these three hip flexors cause much more damage due to their size, the fact that they alter pelvic and knee mechanics, and their involvement in just about everything we do with our legs.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.