Quad and Hip Flexor Release – This ONE Technique Relieves Piriformis, Glute and Tailbone Pain, Pulled Hamstrings and Groin Pain

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Possible SIDE EFFECTS of using the above technique:

  1. Feeling more FREEDOM and space in your legs
  2. More efficient/better running, cycling, hiking, dancing, Oly lifting (etc)
  3. Reduced low back pain
  4. Freed up hamstrings
  5. Relief from piriformis /glute pain and inhibited glutes
  6. Relief from pulled or tight hip flexor muscles
  7. Relief from groin pain
  8. Relief from hip pain
  9. Less knee pain
  10. A freed up and more balanced PELVIS (which can lead to less mid back and neck pain and a more even walking or running gait, not to mention better DANCE MOVES! And who doesn’t want that!?)
  11. and MORE!

To get the MOST out of this technique PLEASE READ THE FULL POST (better results if you do!)

If there was ONE area of the body I would have everyone dedicate time to, regardless of issue and even if you don’t have ANY pain, it would be the quads.

You can probably guess why…

We are a HUGELY quad dominant society (in western culture). We sit at desks all day starting in 1st grade all the way through college and most jobs in America are desk jobs. All this sitting sets us up to have tight fascia in our quads no matter how active or inactive we are.

On top of that, most of our sports are quad dominant: soccer, football, gymnastics (that was me), cycling, dancing, running (unless you know how to run using your hamstrings and glutes, and if you do – congratulations!)

One of the MOST powerful tools in the fascia release arsenal: Knowing How to Release the Quads

When the fascia in our quads gets tight, dehydrated and sticks to itself in balls or “knots” (yep, that happens!) it can cause SO many isssues. The above list starts to cover it and here are a few more, broken down even more:

  • Tailbone, coccyx and SI pain
  • Sciatica and low back pain
  • Piriformis pain
  • Inhibited glute muscles and glute pain
  • Pulled and inhibited hamstrings
  • Pulled hip flexors and hip flexor pain
  • Hip pain (front and side)
  • Groin pain and pulled groin muscles
  • Knee pain
  • Tilted or uneven pelvis, which can result in:
  • Gait changes leading to ankle and foot issues, knee or hip pain and…
  • Shoulder and neck issues (ankles affect knees, knees affect hips, hips affect shoulders and vice versa)

If you’re experiencing restriction in your hamstrings, if you have pulled hamstrings, a pulled hip flexor muscle or hip flexors that feel tight through movements like running, start with Part I.

Here’s the scoop on WHY releasing this fascia will help these two things:

  1. If your quad fascia is too tight and knotted up, it can inhibit your hamstrings through something called reciprocal inhibition. Your quad tissue must be able to lengthen while your hamstrings contract. When the quads can’t lengthen because they’re too tight, it will usually be the hamstrings that pay the price and get your attention.
  2. If the middle top of your quad tissue has a giant ball of fascia stuck to itself, it will pull on everything above it, including all that hip flexor tissue (tendons and ligaments included). They can only engage in a tug-of-war so long, before getting your attention (pain).

If you have low back pain:

If you have low back pain of ANY kind, including sciatica, SI or tailbone pain, please note that this is NOT a full solution. Nor is this meant to be medical advice or used in a medical emergency! There are many factors involved in low back pain, and the quads are just one. I won’t be going into all the causes of low back pain in this post. Having said that, you may find you get a lot of relief with just this one technique, especially if you’re experiencing SI or tailbone pain.

While I talk about the upper quad or hip flexor fascia release addressing issues like SI and tailbone pain, the truth is ALL this quad fasica could cause those things. So if these are your issues, you definitely want to release ALL that quad fascia, from mid to high so do Parts I AND II, and start with Part I.

If you are in pain right now:

  • Make sure your low back doesn’t sink too far towards the floor, which can irritate it.
  • Use your abs to keep yourself parallel to the floor.
  • TEST both legs with your weight on the roller. If one side is more sore/tender/painful, do that one first.
  • If your back pain gets better, skip the other leg for now.
  • If your back pain gets worse, take a break and switch to the other leg to see if you get more relief from that side. If you do, stick to that leg for a few days.

Low back pain typically happens as a result of an imbalance left to right OR front to back in the thigh fascia; including the quads, but also adductors, IT Band and hamstrings (this technique ONLY addresses the quad fascia). When you correct the imbalance the pain usually goes away. So your job is to find the tighter leg and perform this technique on that one only, or that leg more. UNTIL you are balanced, and then you’ll want to do both legs (for maintenance).

How to get the most out of this technique:

  • The more weight you can put on the leg you’re targeting to release, the better the release will be…but keep in mind that if you’re new to foam rolling or new to doing it my way, you don’t want to bruise your tissue or do TOO much until you get used to this. So you might want to start with both legs on the roller.
  • Similarly, the harder the roller you choose, the more intense the stretch becomes. I chose a hard one for the demo. If you’re new to this, please use a softer one to start with.
  • Keep your foot flexed (plantar flexion, toes towards your shin) while moving through the different ranges of motion.
  • Remember: you’re attempting to PIN a piece of your fascial system to that roller with your body-weight, and then STRETCH it through movement. With that in mind, please make sure you’re not just rocking your hips on the roller, which won’t do much other than give your quad a nice massage (hey, feel free to do this after as a reward!)
  • Move around as much as you need to in order to find those KNOTS or balls of fascia; but once you find them, stay there! (30 seconds to a minute should be good). If you have ANY of the issues listed in this blog post, I can almost guarantee you have those knots. But it might take some hunting to find them. Your subconscious will want to avoid those spots and may try to hide them from you! If you’re flexing your quad muscles the whole time you probably won’t find them, so make sure your quads are relatively relaxed the whole time. Or…
  • Try my method of bypassing the subconscious, by flexing your quad muscles and then relaxing them. Often this reveals the lumps (when you relax). You can do this with a straight or bent leg. Why not TRY BOTH?
  • Remember to BREATHE!!!
  • Try this for 3-5 minutes per leg per day for a week. Unless you get sore, then back off.
  • If you find that one leg is more tender/painful than the other, do that leg MORE.

Give this a try and let me know how you feel after a few days or a week! If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or use the contact form.

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  • Jason October 18, 2015   Reply →

    Great stuff Elisha. Tried this earlier then went for a run. Felt much better.

    This one spoke directly to me. I always have right leg HF and high hamstring issues. I felt strong during today’s run and hit the roller again after.

    Stay amazing my friend.

    • Elisha Celeste October 18, 2015   Reply →

      Great to hear Jason!! I’d love to get an update on the high hamstring issue after a couple weeks of doing this technique. Happy running!

  • Eliza January 4, 2016   Reply →

    Hi Elisha!
    I’m loving these stretches/releases you are sharing! Do you have anything that could help release tight glutes?

    • Elisha Celeste January 4, 2016   Reply →

      Hi Eliza – I will be posting probably several episodes of my new Mobility Mastery Monday YouTube video and blog post on glutes. It’s one of the most commonly asked questions I get, and I always hesitate to just give you a glute release technique. MOST of the time glutes that FEEL tight and/or are involved in low back pain, piriformis pain etc, are NOT the problem and stretching/releasing them will make the situation worse. SOMETIMES…they are genuinely tight and need to be released.

      So to answer your questions, yes I will be addressing this but not until I feel confident that people won’t just run with the glute release and end up in more pain.

      To help you out now I would need to know if you have glute pain, if you THINK you have tight glutes but they don’t feel tight to you, or if they just feel tight but you have no history of glute pain, SI pain, low back or hip pain. If you have pain anywhere I mention I would recommend using the quad/hip flexor release as suggested in the blog post first, along with the IT band and hamstring release if you have time. If you don’t get relief using those techniques, it could be the adductors (inner thighs), but I don’t have that out yet. It’s coming in a few weeks!

  • Paul February 20, 2016   Reply →

    Elisha, I suffer from PF and tight everything. My question is simply what size foam roller(s) are you using? Does it matter? Thanks for the tips!

  • mark May 30, 2016   Reply →

    Being an athlete all my life and having endured multiple knee surgeries due to blowing out ACL’s in both knees, I later started to develop a hip issue in my right hip due to the years of wear and tear.
    These days I’m stronger and faster than ever and still competing in sports.
    This site fb.me/7iW9sE50u/#/_EXERCISES_FOR_HIP_FLEXORS/ gave me the ability to perform at my highest level as a coach and regain the athletic ability I had lost over the years from wear and tear (Y)

  • George December 5, 2016   Reply →

    Hello, I currently suffer from some serious quad pain. I have difficulty running for longer then about a couple before feeling pain in the quads. It hurts climbing upstairs, running, playing any phisycal acitivity, even push-ups, and doing abs can hurt. So idk what to do? just keep massaging it out as mentioned above? No sport is fun for me anymore. Seems like my quads just want to contract and not release.

    • Elisha Celeste January 1, 2017   Reply →

      Hi George – it sounds to me like your quads are working for one or possibly many other muscles and are totally fatigued, though it could certainly be something else entirely and possible not fascia related. It’s difficult to suggest anything specific for you without knowing a lot more. This is a scenario that would require a Skype session with me for me to really help you. Here’s a link for more info: http://www.mobilitymastery.com/skype-sessions

  • Lisa January 11, 2017   Reply →

    Hi Elisha,
    I’ve used this quad/hip flexor release with much success, thank you so much for your videos and tips, I really do love them! I recently had knee surgery (2 months ago–MCL and PCL reconstruction) and was in a straight-leg locked brace for 6 weeks, just starting PT and range of motion exercises, and also walking and moving more (leg braced). The consequence: a very sore lower back and hips due to uneven gait and difficulty getting up and down. Because of the surgery and brace, I cannot get down on the ground to foam roll. Do you have any suggestions for fascia release in a seated position? Much appreciated! 🙂

    • Elisha Celeste January 12, 2017   Reply →

      Hi Lisa – I don’t have anything easy to point you towards online (no video or post of mine covers this). However I do believe I can help you via Skype. Here’s a link for more info if you’re interested in that: http://www.mobilitymastery.com/skype-sessions

      We could cover a lot of territory in 30 minutes as far as what to do for the best possible recovery, to ensure you return to a balanced gait pattern and modifying techniques to fit your current situation.
      Good luck with the post-surgery recovery whichever route you go 🙂

  • Karen from Kansas January 16, 2017   Reply →

    I am a runner. I have had high hamstring issues for 2 years – nonstop. And issues with IT band, knees, and hip (tailbone, big toe…I could go on) periodically. I did this quad release and it’s the best I’ve felt in months! Thank you!

    • Elisha Celeste January 17, 2017   Reply →

      Hi Karen! Yay! That’s so awesome to hear, makes me really truly happy :))))

  • Matt Garcia February 6, 2017   Reply →

    I’m so glad I came across this post. I’ve been dealing with a hip flexor issue for a few years now and it just so happens I bought a foam roller just a few minutes ago. Time to put it to use!

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