Your hip flexors' main function is to march your knee toward your chest. It can also assist with the motion of bending at the waist. Several muscles make up the hip flexors or hip flexor muscles. The largest hip flexor muscle is the iliopsoas. It attaches to the front of the lower back (lumbar) vertebrae and the inside surface of the pelvis and runs through the pelvis, and attaches to the top of the thigh bone (femur). When it contracts, it flexes the hip joint into a marching position. The hip flexor or hip flexor muscles help to bring the leg forward during walking and running. The other hip flexor muscles are the Iliacus, Pectineus, Rectus Femoris and the Sartorius.
The arrows in the picture below, show you where on your hip that pain is felt when you have a hip flexor strain or injury. Pain is usually felt with walking or trying to lift your leg up into the air.
Other muscles assist with flexing the hip, but the iliopsoas is the primary and major hip flexor or hip flexor muscle. Because of the hip flexor muscles' position, they can become tight with repetitive sitting activity such as working at a computer.
The symptoms of tight hip flexors can most commonly be described as a pain felt in the front of the hip. Other symptoms could involve a snapping or popping sensation in the hip. The pain may also be more evident when attempting to stand after sitting for an extended amount of time.
The quick answer is hip flexor strain usually causes pain in the front of the hip near the groin. There can be pain along the muscle, but the pain is usually near the thigh's attachment. Pain is usually worse with stretching the muscle. When the thigh is extended behind the body, the hip flexor muscles are stretched. This can cause pain if there is a strain in the hip flexors.
To learn more, Read "Psoas Strain".
A hip flexor strain is frequently caused by overuse. Additional causes of hip flexor strains or tears are:
Athletes that participate in sports that involve running, jumping, and performing high knee kicks are at a higher risk for a hip flexor injury. Sports where flexors of the hip are prone to injury include:
Symptoms associated with a hip flexor strain can range from mild to severe and can impact your mobility. These muscles and the tendons that connect them to your bones can easily be strained if you overuse them.
Pain is usually worse with stretching the muscle. When the thigh is extended behind the body, the hip flexor muscles are stretched. This can cause pain if there is a strain in the hip flexors.
If you don’t rest and seek treatment, your hip flexor strain symptoms could get worse. But many at-home activities and remedies can help reduce hip flexor strain symptoms.
A hip flexor strain usually causes pain in the front of the hip near the groin. There can be pain along the muscle, but the pain is usually near the thigh's attachment. Hip flexor or hip flexor muscle pain is typically felt deep in the front of the hip region. It may be worse during or after activity if there is a strain.
Mild strains may take a few weeks to heal, while severe strains, on the other hand, can take up to six weeks or more to recover fully. A Grade 1 hip flexor strain, common among runners, usually takes 7 to 14 days to heal.
The Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute Offers free Hip Exercises through our YouTube Channel. Below is the handout for our Level 1 Hip Exercises. You can also click this link to our Hip Exercise Series.
Some runners may not have to stop running completely but merely reduce their training load (distance, intensity, frequency) during the rehabilitation process. You should be able to bend and straighten your hip without pain. If pain is not controlled, you should not run and rest.
Most hip flexor injuries can be treated at home and don't require prescription medications or invasive procedures. The RICE technique is highly recommended for most acute injuries. We suggest you start with applying ice to the affected area in 10- to 15-minute increments. This can be done several times per day until the pain decreases. You should avoid activities that will overuse your hip flexors or that cause pain. Often, when returning to an activity this area can be protected with a hip flexor wrap.
If you have hip pain on one side, sleep on the other side. Draw your knees up and place a pillow between them to keep your hips aligned. This will reduce the stress in the flexors of the hip. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Since the hip flexors are easy to overuse and strain, it is important to stretch them before exercise or strenuous activity. Because of their relationship to other muscle groups in the legs (like the quadriceps), it is important to stretch the muscle group as a whole, not individually.
Strengthening the hip flexor is helpful to prevent strains with exercise and sport activity. It is recommended that you see a physical therapist give you an injury-specific strengthening program. Exercises to strengthen the hip flexor may include:
-Straight leg raises
Holding a lunge position with a chair
By: Drew Heideman, PT, ATC
If you need to see a hip doctor, the Jacksonville Orthopaedic Institute is the place for you. We offer the area’s top orthopedic hip surgeons and doctors in 5 convenient locations in Northeast Florida. JOI also offers 12 convenient physical therapy centers so that you can begin your recovery quickly. Please read more at Direct Access to Physical Therapy at JOI Rehab.
To schedule an appointment with a JOI Orthopedic Hip Specialist, Call 904-JOI-2000, schedule online, or click the link below. To see a JOI Rehab Therapist in 1 of our 12 locations, call (904)858-7045.