Could tight hip flexors cause knee pain?

What are hip flexors?

The hip flexors are a group of muscles dictate the movement of the hip. They’re engaged while running, ascending stairs, squatting, and more. They consist of several muscles, among which are the rectus femoris and the Iliopsoas which can become tight for those who sit for prolonged periods of time. When you sit for long periods of time, the muscles become shortened and can cause increased pain with certain activities - especially in the low back, hips, and knees.

Knee pain

The Rectus femoris is responsible for flexing the hip as well as extending the knee. It is located on the front thigh, originating at the hip bone and inserts on the shin bone as the patella tendon which is part of the knee. If this muscle is tight, you’ll probably experience knee pain when the knee is flexed during running or squatting. A few common overuse injuries caused by a tight Rectus femoris are Patella femoral syndrome and Patella tendonitis.

Exercises that can help

To do an exercise right, you need the guidance of a professional so you don’t unintentionally exacerbate the issue from repetitive improper movement. If you’ve been experiencing joint pain, ask your trainer about some of the following exercises:

  • Stretching of the rectus femoris muscle

  • Cross friction massage of the patella tendon

  • Eccentric quad strengthening

  • Medial step-downs

  • Eccentric quads

  • Clamshells