The hip flexor muscles are responsible for knee bends towards the chest, bending your trunk towards your thigh and rotating the thigh bone. This set of muscles run from the pelvis and lower spine and join together to the upper thigh. The tendons can suffer from muscle weakness or tightness or overuse. Hip flexors are prone to becoming tight and shortened. When that happens, the muscles become imbalanced and do not generate as much power. Sprains, pain and swelling can result. The hip flexor muscle group includes:
Hip flexor strain
Cyclists, soccer and football players, dancers and athletes are at higher risk of suffering hip flexor injury and strain. Those who have sedentary jobs or sit for a large part of the day can also end up with tight hip flexors and lower hip pain.
Hip flexor injuries can range from simple sprains that require hardly much treatment to third-degree sprains which involve bone breakage along with muscle sprain. First degree hip flexor sprain involves only a few damaged fibers. Grade 2 hip flexor tear involves damage to a significant number of muscle fibers leading to loss of hip flexor function. Serious hip problems can worsen over time and can even lead to hip replacement in acute cases.
Repeated movements such as jumping, running or kicking can lead to overuse of hip flexor muscles and subsequent soreness and inflammation. Sitting crouched at a desk leads to shortening of the hip flexors leading to pain. Everyday activities that weaken or shorten the hip flexors can result in hip flexor pain and strain. Sitting in front of a computer for long hours, bad posture followed by a workout sans adequate stretching can also contribute to hip flexor pain.
Treating hip flexor pain
The goal of hip flexor exercises is improving strength and flexibility of hip flexors. Such gentle stretching can ease tension and prevent future injury. Strengthen your knees and ankles as well so as to improve lower extremity tightening. Ankle and knee muscles serve to control hip positioning.
Hip flexor strengthening exercises
Leg lifts and standing hip flexions can also be done with ankle weights as you progress. Foam rolling can also help alleviate hip pain.
Straight leg raise
Lie flat on the floor.
Raise one leg so that it is perpendicular to the floor.
Hold for 3 long breaths. Lower it down.
Repeat it with the other leg.
Stand straight against a wall with feet slightly apart.
Bend your knees slowly and slide back down the wall. Keep your knees at around 45 degrees.
Hold this stance for 3 long breaths.
Return to standing position.
Lie down on the floor with your legs straight out.
Bend one knee towards your chest. Hold it as close to the chest as possible.
Hold for 3 long breaths.
Return to starting position.
Repeat it with the other leg.
Knee Drive Hold
Prop your arms on a chair or exercise ball like an elevated pushup position.
Maintain a straight posture with abs engaged. Move one knee towards your chest. Hold for 3 long breaths.
Return to pushup position.
Repeat it for the other knee.
Lie on the floor on your back.
With abs engaged, raise your legs and arms up at 90 degrees. Extend and lower the left leg till it is just off the floor. At the same time raise the right arm over the head as far as you can.
Repeat for the other combination – right leg and left arm.
Yoga poses for stretching hip flexor muscles
The seated butterfly stretch is another yoga pose that works wonder by opening up the hips and stretching the thighs and lower back.
Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet in front of you. Keep the knees bent out on both sides. With both hands, pull the heels together towards you. Allow the knees to be as close to the floor as possible. Hold for 3 long breaths.