Are your hip flexors really tight? Read on for a simple assessment you can do yourself to find out.

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With lots of sitting and very little movement nowadays, our body has learnt to adapt to our favoured position thus affecting our posture. The saying that “the next posture is your best posture holds true”. While there may be little correlation between posture and pain, sometimes having a good range of motion is important if we want to achieve certain movements. The lack of it causes compensation and depending on the load and forces acting upon it could cause pain and discomfort down the road. We are going to look at your hip flexors today.

One of the easiest ways to test the tightness of your hip flexors is the Modified Thomas Test*. Here are the steps :
1) Lie down on a bed close to the edge
2) Make sure there’s enough space for the feet to hover off the ground
3) Hug one knee towards your chest
4) See if the other knee is lifted above the hip height (see picture)

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It is important to keep the lower back and the sacrum (pelvis) down on the bed when doing this test. If the non-hugging knee does lift up above the hip, then its a positive sign that one of the hip flexors (iliopsoas) could be tight.

While it may not be a 100% indicative of tight hip flexors, it is a good baseline to start with if you want to look at increasing your range of motion.

*Do take note that the modified Thomas test has an average of only moderate levels of reliability. Further research is required to prove or to refute the reliability of the Thomas test.

Peeler et al., 2006 conducted a study examining the reliability of the Thomas test for assessing hip range. Their study calls into question the reliability of the technique when used to score ROM and iliopsoas muscle flexibility about the hip joint using both goniometer and pass/fail scoring methods.

References:
Phyllis A Clapis, PT, DHSc, OCS1, Susan Mercik Davis and Ross Otto Davis; Reliability of inclinometer and goniometric measurements of hip extension flexibility using the modified Thomas test; Physiotherapy Theory and Practice ; 2008, Vol. 24, No. 2 , Pages 135-141

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