Hip flexor strain injuries can be very painful and can interrupt a runner’s training program if not addressed early.
We will explore in this article the causes and treatments of hip flexor strains, and how you can recognise if you have this common runner’s injury.
What are hip flexors?
There are three major muscles that help lift your leg upward toward your torso. They are the rectus femoris, the iliopsoas and the iliacus.
These muscles, and the tendons that connect to them require a lot of effort to lift the legs up and forward in the motions used for running and walking.
What are the causes of hip flexor strain injuries?
Hip flexor strains occur when the muscles and tendons are overworked with little time to recover. They can also become inflamed if people spend much of their time sitting at desks and then overexert the muscle by running without appropriate stretching.
Runners, dancers, football players and even aerobics participants are the people most likely to incur this overuse injury. It may also occur if the legs are stretched or forced too far backwards, leading to an overstretched hip flexor system.
What does hip flexor strain feel like?
It’s commonly felt as a pain in the front of the hip, just below the pelvis.
You may notice spasms, sudden pain, bruising, pain when stretching, stiffness or pain when you lift your legs toward your abdomen.
There are three levels or grades of hip flexor strain. They all relate to the intensity of the tear in the muscles. It’s best to act when you first notice any pain, as continued overuse of the muscle can lead to more serious damage.
If you notice any of the symptoms, try to rest your muscles by pausing your training routine, or significantly reducing your training load.
If the pain is acute, you may like to apply alternating heat and cool packs to the area. This should help reduce swelling and encourage blood flow to the area.
Over the counter painkillers may help, but do not try to train through the pain. If you are uncertain or the pain is getting worse, consult with your health care provider.
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