The hip flexors are a group of three muscles that work together to allow you to bend at the hip or lift a leg. They also act as stabilizing muscles for the legs and lower back. Because they work with other major muscle groups, injuries to the hip flexors can be painful and limit range of movement, which leads to limited mobility during recovery. Every time you take a step forward, the hip flexors are working, which is one reason hip flexor pain can have a major impact on your daily life.
Understanding the causes of hip flexor pain and knowing how to treat and prevent it can help you recover quickly from hip flexor injuries and avoid them in the future.
Hip Flexor Pain Causes
Most hip flexor injuries are the result of acute trauma, like pulling a muscle when running or jumping. Another common cause of hip flexor pain is weakness in the surrounding core muscles. The hip flexor muscles contribute to stabilizing the pelvis, but they can’t do it alone. When the lower abdominal muscles are weak, the hip flexors are forced to engage more than they can handle, ultimately leading to muscle strain.
Regardless of the cause, when you experience a hip flexor strain, you will probably feel pain in the front of the hip and down the front of the thigh. Pain often increases with movement, especially when engaging the hip flexor muscles. You might experience visible swelling, but the inflammation is often in the deeper tissues.
Hip Flexor Pain Treatment
Treating hip flexor pain is essential for a fast recovery. Although you don’t see swelling, the application of cold therapy can help reduce the inflammation in the muscles and surrounding tissues. You can apply ice packs to the area or use a cold compression system with a wrap that conforms to your body.
Rest is also important, especially in the first several days after an acute injury, so avoid walking when possible. After the significant pain has subsided, continue cold therapy and start doing gentle stretches to increase flexibility in the hip flexors. Avoid the temptation of trying to return to normal activity too quickly. Even if the pain has significantly subsided, you can easily reinjure yourself if the hip flexors have not fully healed.
Hip Flexor Pain Prevention
The best way to avoid hip flexor pain is to strengthen the hip flexors and surrounding muscles to ensure that they are strong enough to perform the activities you do. Flexibility is also important for injury prevention, so incorporating daily stretches into your routine can also help you avoid hip flexor pain. If you do engage in athletic activity, be sure to always warm up and stretch to prepare your body for a different level of intensity. Preparing the hip flexors for athletic activity is essential for injury prevention, so always take the time to do a proper warm-up.
If you have suffered from a hip flexor injury, consider using a Game Ready cold and compression therapy system during your recovery. The patented wraps provide more thorough coverage than ice packs, allowing therapeutic cold to penetrate deeper and reach more damaged tissues. The wraps also easily conform to your body to make treatment much more comfortable. If you’d like to learn more, contact Game Ready today or find a provider near you.