The hip flexors are a collection of muscles that work together to allow you to flex your hip joint, which includes actions like bending at the waist and lifting your knees. The primary muscles required for hip flexion are the psoas major and the iliacus muscle, commonly known as the iliopsoas, and the rectus femoris and sartorius. In addition to these primary movers, some of the gluteal and adductor muscles are also engaged.
Hip flexor pain, which is common among athletes, can come from a number of sources, including:
- Inflammation in any of the primary movers
- Muscle strain from activity
- Muscle tightness from inactivity (like sitting for long periods of time)
- Lack of stretching
- Trauma or a fall
If you’re uncertain of the cause of your hip flexor pain, or if the pain persists, work with a physician to identify the problem and define a treatment strategy.
Hip Flexor Pain Treatment
Depending on your doctor’s recommendations, hip flexor pain treatment might include any or all of the following:
Stretch - Actively stretching before any activity, including just walking, can help elongate the hip flexor muscles and reduce tightening. This will help relieve some of the pain you already feel and prevent further injury from occurring.
Strengthen - In addition to stretching, strengthening weak hip flexor muscles will help reduce pain and prevent future injury.
Stay active - Although it is important to rest injured muscles, staying completely inactive will only allow hip flexors to stay tight and painful. Avoid sitting for prolonged periods and talk your doctor or physical therapist about the appropriate level of activity for your injury.
Use pain medication - If you have a severe injury with extreme pain, your doctor might recommend the use NSAIDs to decrease inflammation and help control pain.
Cold therapy - Like many other types of muscle strains, cold therapy is often recommended to help reduce swelling and mitigate pain. You can use traditional options like ice or gel packs, or for a more safe, convenient, and effective alternative, a cryotherapy machine.
Compression - Compression around the injured muscles and surrounding tissues will help reduce swelling. If you use active compression, you will get the added benefit of edema removal and better blood flow, both of which contribute to a faster recovery.
In addition to physical therapy exercises that stretch and strengthen injured muscles, active cold and compression are an important component of hip flexor pain treatment. By delivering consistent cold to temporarily numb nerve endings and actively pumping oxygen and nutrients to healing tissues, cryotherapy and compression not only help reduce pain, but also speed up the healing process.
If you are looking for hip flexor pain treatment and you want to reduce or avoid pain medication, consider using a cryotherapy machine. An adjustable wrap that conforms to the entire area surrounding your hip joint will deliver simultaneous cold and compression to reduce pain and inflammation. Contact Game Ready today to learn more about renting a system for home use, or find a provider near you to incorporate Game Ready into your physical therapy strategy.