What Is It And What Are The Causes?
If you have some or all of the following symptoms, you may have hip flexor issues. Hip flexor issues afflict a large percentage of active people and can be very painful.
- Mild to serious pain that may feel like a pulling in the front of the hip.
- A sharp or dull pain that may cause limping while walking.
- Bruising, spasms, or swelling; the top of the thigh muscle may bulge. It will be difficult to walk.
- Some sufferers may even experience hip pain when sitting down.
The hip flexors are a muscle group in front of the hips which are commonly used for raising the legs and knees toward the chest during movement, especially bending, walking and running. In most cases, hip flexor pain results from a sports injury or strain of some type. They are prevalent, especially if you are not stretching adequately before physical exercise or activities.
Hip flexor strain is not uncommon, and therefore it can be helpful and informative to understand hip flexor pain and its causes. Inform yourself now to help prevent hip flexor pain in the future.
What Is Hip Flexor Pain?
First, understanding hip flexor strain requires an understanding of what the hip flexor muscles actually are and how they are used in movement and stretching. The hip flexor muscles are incredibly strong; they are some of the strongest muscles in the body. They can be found deep in the abdominal cavity and aid the bending of the knees and legs toward the chest during movements such as running, walking and crouching. The hip flexors are under constant pressure when exercising and as a result, they are often subject to injury and tearing. The most common muscle in the hip flexor group that is prone to injury is known as the Iliopsoas. Without getting too scientific, the iliopsoas resides on your lower back and inserts into your thigh bone. Now you know a little bit about what the hip flexors are, let us investigate what hip flexor pain actually is.
As previously mentioned, hip flexor strain is the result of excessive athletic activity without hip flexor stretching or proper preparation. Individuals who are prone to experiencing hip flexor injury are runners, soccer players and martial artists, all of who require excessive use of their knees, legs, and hips. Whenever the hip flexors are under pressure from such activities, the muscle fibers are put under tension. If the tension is too great, these muscle fibers can tear, resulting in intense pain and a lack of mobility. A pulled hip flexor will definitely put you out of your sporting activities for a few days, and it is important to seek medical help if the tear is severe. In the medical dictionary, hip flexor pain is actually known as a hip flexor strain, and the strain/tearing can vary from small/minimal to severe/rupturing, resulting in complete disability.
Grades of Hip Flexor Injury
When you damage your hip flexor, you may experience varying levels of pain. The torn hip flexor can be categorized into three different grades of tears: Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3, with the latter being the most severe, which we hope you’ll never experience.
- Grade 1 – This is where a few hip flexor fibers are torn, but you are still able to move. The pain is only slight.
- Grade 2 – A significant amount of fiber damage has occurred. You may not be able to function properly for a few days.
- Grade 3 – This is very severe; you may have ruptured your entire muscle, resulting in immense pain and complete loss of functioning (seek medical treatment immediately).
The good news is with the proper recovery techniques and the most recommended rehabilitation methods, you can come back from a hip flexor tear in one to three weeks. However, with larger tears, recovery can take significantly longer.
What Are The Causes of Hip Flexor Strain?
There is a range of causes of hip flexor strain. It can be helpful to know what the causes are, so you can prevent it in the future. As mentioned earlier, hip flexor injury results from drastic movements involved with sports, and it is not uncommon for a running or soccer player to suffer from this injury. Something as simple as an accelerated kick or leg movement can microscopically tear your hip muscle and result in a sharp pain.
There is also the possibility of reinjuring your hip muscles. Patients can develop a condition where they suffer from torn hip flexor muscles from even simple tasks as a result of previous muscular tearing. If you are continually damaging your hip flexors and are not performing hip flexor stretches before a physical activity, you may suffer in the long term.
There are also a number of factors that can be aggravating your hip muscle pain including additional tears and damage, particularly around the hip flexor areas. Other muscles can affect the performance of the hip flexors, and if they become damaged, may cause a lot of problems in regards to knee bending and running. One of these injuries involves the groin. Tears and pulls in this region can contribute to the hip flexor strain. It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish the difference between hip flexor pain and groin pain, and more often than not, the two tend to complement each other. Another common injury which contributes towards hip issues involves the hamstrings, which run down the back of the thigh and operate with the hip flexor to move the knees. As with any muscle, the hamstring can become damaged and may affect the performance of your hip flexor muscles, resulting in a dull pain.
Symptoms of Hip Flexor Strains
As with the cause, identifying when you tore your hip flexor muscle will be be beneficial when it comes to either seeking medical attention or applying self-rehabilitation, which is effective if you know the correct methods. One of the most common symptoms experienced with a hip flexor injury is a sharp, sudden pain at the front of the hip or groin. This pain will immediately follow the tear or strain. Keep in mind, it is difficult to decipher whether an injury is associated with the groin or hip flexor independently and in some cases, it may be both.
The pain, of course, varies depending on the severity of the injury and the more minor the tear the less pain will be felt. In some cases, a minimal hip flexor strain will only inhibit the activity slightly and you may be able to continue throughout your day as normal. However, if you experience extreme pain and difficulty with movement, something more serious may have occurred. Severe tearing may result in muscle spasms, muscle weakness and an inability to continue with the activity. Severe muscle damage may also result in a complete loss of mobility, and it may be appropriate to seek medical attention quickly.
Accompanying either a dull or severe pain (depending on the injury), you should also experience pain specifically when the knee is raised toward the chest. Occasionally, you may not experience this type of pain, but instead, will be met with resistance in the movement. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. You still may require medical attention. Stiffness and swelling are also common features of hip flexor damage. If you experience a bit of difficulty walking the next morning, you may need to perform some self-rehabilitation. There are various ways to accomplish this. If you have read the grading mentioned above, a Grade 3 tear may result in complete muscle deformity and you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
What Predisposes Us To Hip Flexor Pain?
Any individual can suffer from a hip flexor strain, but more often than not, the main victims are athletes and sportsmen. Nonetheless, we have probably all experienced hip flexor pain when running, jumping or bending down. However, there are a number of factors that may contribute to damage to your hip flexor muscles, and it’s vital you understand your own physical limitations. Age is a big contributor to hip flexor damage, and the older you are the more prone you will be to pull and tear muscles. If you’re above the age of seventy, you probably shouldn’t be performing gymnastics if you want to prevent muscle damage. With older age comes muscle weakness and a tight hip flexor, all contributing towards injury.
Another major, aggravating factor which can promote hip flexor strain is training and warm-up related. Before you engage in any physical activity, familiarize yourself with the proper warm-up techniques that will help you perform with maximum efficiency, decreasing the possibility of hip flexor injury. Before any exercise, learn the warm-up techniques for the hip flexors and prepare yourself for quick, aggressive movements (depending on the activity). Two examples of warm-up exercises will be listed below. Another factor that needs to be considered is the athletic ability. This applies to individuals who have made that New Year’s resolution and want to lose some pounds. Inappropriate training and poor biomechanics (the way your body moves) can aggravate the hip flexors and may result in muscle damage. If you are a beginner in the athletic world, start easy and work your way up. Do not go full throttle right of the bat as you may suffer from serious hip damage.
Hip Flexor Treatment And Rehabilitation
One of the final predispositions that can result in a hip flexor accidents is the previous rehabilitation from another hip flexor-related injury. This is a major factor, as previous hip flexor strains can result in future strains. There are a number of professional and well-known techniques that can be used to help you if you have suffered from minor or severe hip flexor damage. It is important you know these methods; they may spare you a trip to the doctor and save you time and money. Self-healing can be just as effective if done correctly. Through a number of intermediate and advanced rehabilitation training techniques, you should be on your way to a full recovery. It may also be necessary to have a hip flexor-rehabilitation protocol, which you follow if you suffer from hip flexor pain often.
What Can You Do To Prevent Hip Flexor Issues?
Hip flexor stretches are the best way to prepare for an activity and ensure that you don’t suffer from any hip flexor pain or related issues. Flexor stretches are easy to perform and can be beneficial to the muscle fibers. It should be noted that these exercises do not help with rehabilitation of hip flexor injuries! Hip flexor rehabilitation techniques are more advanced. Performing flexor stretches on an existing muscle injury may result in further pain and/or injury.
- Try standing up and raising your knee to your chest as if you are marching in a band. Hold it there for a period of time and then bring it down. Repeat the same with the other leg. Do these movements at least 15 times.
- You can also perform a maneuver sitting down. Sit down and hold your sides. Lift your leg so it is parallel with the floor and hold it in place for a few seconds. Let it fall to the floor and repeat with the other leg. Try doing this 5 times.
These are just two basic exercises and there are more out there. Again, do not use these for rehabilitation as those exercises are very different.
Take Good Care of Your Hip Flexors
The hip flexor is one the main components of the body and is heavily involved in athletic tasks and quick movements. However, on occasion, it can tear and cause significant pain preventing you from moving and performing activities. There are a number of causes to hip flexor injury, one of the main ones being excessive tension placed on the muscle through sporting activities. Nonetheless, through a number of exercises and techniques, the pain can be remedied and the muscle can be self-healed. Remember to warm-up before you exercise. Don’t predispose yourself to the possibility of injury.