Most athletes and active people are used to experiencing some soreness after working out. After all, soreness is a normal part of the process for building muscle. However, if you are experiencing regular hip flexor pain after exercising, especially if you do a lot of squats, it might be time to consider adding a new stretching routine to your warm-up and cool-down.
What Is a Hip Flexor?
The hip flexors are a group of nine muscles located in the inner thigh and front of the thigh and surrounding the hip joint. These muscles flex the hip joint and allow you to do movements such as sitting, standing, squatting, jumping, and kicking.
Like any other muscle, hip flexors can become weak or tight, which ultimately results in pain or soreness. For example, sitting at a desk all day causes the hip flexors in the front of the hip to stay in a contracted position, which can lead to both weakness and tightness. When you stand up from a seated position, those muscles are allowed to stretch out, but because they have been contracted all day, they are more susceptible to injury or soreness.
Stretches That Help Hip Flexors
If you are experiencing regular hip flexor pain after working out, you may consider warming up before exercising and stretching these tight muscles after doing athletic activity. Some of the stretches to do after exercising are:
- Kneeling lunge – Start in a lunge position and drop your back knee to the floor. Push your pelvis forward and feel the hip flexor in the front of your thigh elongate as you hold the position in a static stretch.
- Pigeon pose – This yoga pose opens the hips and stretches the hip flexors. Start on all fours and bring one knee forward between your hands. Rotate the hip and knee so that the front foot aligns with the opposite hip bone and allow your body to sink down toward the floor until you feel a gentle stretch in the hip and inner thigh.
- Butterfly stretch – Sit on the floor and bring the soles of the feet together in front of your body. Gently push the knees toward the floor using your forearms until you feel a gentle stretch in the inner thigh.
- Bridge pose – While lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, slowly raise the hips toward the ceiling until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of the hips and thighs.
These are just a few examples of many types of hip flexor stretches you can do. In addition to static stretching, warm up the hip flexor muscles before working out by gently swinging the legs forward, backward, and side to side.
Difference Between a Strain and Hip Flexor Tightness
If hip flexor pain becomes so intense that you need medication, you might have a muscle strain injury. When a hip flexor muscle becomes torn, you can expect some or all of the following symptoms:
- A popping or snapping feeling when the injury occurs
- Acute pain immediately after the injury occurs
- Tenderness in the area
- Difficulty performing normal functions
- Bruising and/or swelling in the area
If you don’t have any of these symptoms and the pain is not too severe, you may just be experiencing hip flexor tightness. If this is the case, you could be more susceptible to a strain, as the muscles are more likely to tear rather than stretch, so it’s important to address the issue by warming up and stretching before you sustain a more serious injury.
If you have sustained a hip flexor injury, help speed up the healing process with a cold therapy system that helps reduce pain and swelling deep in the damaged tissues. For more information about how to address hip flexor pain, download our free Guide to Accelerating Hip and Groin Recovery.