Hip flexor pain is less common of an issue for people but it is still incredibly annoying and has the potential to turn into a serious injury. The hip flexors are the muscles that move your leg towards your chest and are used commonly while climbing stairs, standing from being seated, and kicking motions. The pain is most commonly caused by overuse or putting a strain on a cold muscle but can also be triggered by trauma or osteoarthritis. If you feel pain on the front of the hip from the groin to the hip bone, this is most likely a hip flexor strain. There might also be muscle spasms, tenderness, or a pulling sensation. If you do start feeling any of these symptoms, immediately stop whatever is causing them and try to determine what exactly is causing the pain and discomfort to avoid making it any worse.
How are hip flexor strains categorised?
Hip flexor strains are graded on a three-point scale. Where a Grade 1 is a minor tear with only a few fibres damaged. A Grade 3 is a complete tear and you can’t walk without a limp. Most injuries are a Grade 2 where a good amount of muscle is damaged, and it hurts to walk and climb stairs. These are muscles that are strong and used whenever you move, even while sitting, but they can still become damaged.
Treatment for hip flexor strain
To relieve symptoms short of a major tear, simple rest and over-the-counter pain relievers should eventually heal you up. Alternating ice and a heat pack every 20 minutes a few times a day should also speed up the healing process by bringing more blood to the area. Elevation and compression are also part of a normal muscle healing process, but the hip area is hard to elevate and compress, so rest and ice will be adequate.
Another way to help ease the pain of a minor hip flexor injury is by light stretching to help relax a muscle that might have gotten tight recently. It’s important to go extremely slow with the stretch to avoid making the injury worse or undoing what has already healed. Stretches such as the “seated butterfly” and “the world’s greatest stretch” are great for targeting the hip flexor. A simple five-minute stretch routine after exercise or even as a break in the afternoon can be great to improve muscle flexibility and blood flow.
How to prevent hip flexor strains
To keep your hip flexors strong and prevent injury, have a good workout routine that is varied to avoid overuse of specific muscles. Swimming, cycling and walking are great exercises to keep the hip flexors strong, and they also double as cardio to burn fat and improve the cardiovascular system. Be sure to save time for a good warm-up and cool-down routine for best results.
If you do happen to show symptoms of a hip flexor strain, be careful and ensure you get adequate rest. Most over-the-counter pain medication or topical pain relief creams will be adequate for most hip flexor injuries. Symptoms usually fade in four to six weeks. If pain persists longer than that, if you haven’t done anything to aggravate the injury again, it would be wise to seek professional advice from your doctor or a physiotherapist. This type of injury is annoying and can start to affect your daily routine negatively. Even a minor amount of pain can eventually turn into something much worse if you don’t take precautions immediately to limit the damage done. Above all, rest is your best bet to get back to normal activities as soon as possible.