The hip flexor muscles are a group of muscles which help you bend the knees, pull the knees upward, and bend at the waist. These muscles have to deal with a lot of stress while sprinting, jumping, and kicking. The flexors are made up of three muscles called rectus femoris, psoas major, and iliacus. All these muscles work in tandem and provide stability to the lower extremity of the body. However, pain in these muscles is often due to lack of flexibility of the hip joint and not due to lack of strength as normally perceived.
Flexor pain is often caused due to the overuse of these muscles. It can also be caused due to acute trauma. Many times, while sprinting, kicking a ball, cycling, etc., there can be instances when a person feels a pull in the flexor muscles of the hip. This is said to be the origin of the pain in the hip muscle region. Due to sedentary lifestyles, the flexor muscles become tight and have poor flexibility, and this contributes to the injury. If the muscles are tight, there is an increased amount of tension on the tissues. Many a time, increased tension along with an explosive movement leads to an injury.
There is also a chance, that injury to the flexors is caused due to weakness in other muscles. This is often true, especially, in case of weakness in the core muscles. If the core muscles (or muscles in the lower abdomen) are weak and are not able to stabilize the pelvis, the flexor muscles in the hips take the pressure, trying to compensate for the core's weakness, and are overworked.
When the flexors are strained, the most common and first noticeable symptom is pain. This pain occurs along the front of the hip and may also radiate down towards the front of the thigh. The pain is aggravated if the person tries to lift the knee towards the chest. Many times, running, walking, and jumping can also become very painful. Hence, participation in sports activities can become limited. Some people may experience swelling, but it is not a commonly seen symptom. There are chances of muscle spasm and bruising depending upon the severity of the injury.
It is always advisable to start the treatment with cold compresses. Applying a cold compress on the affected area for 20 to 25 minutes helps alleviate the pain. This can be done for 2 to 3 days till the pain goes away. If the pain is unbearable or persistent, the health care provider may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines and/or pain killers. Rehabilitation exercises related to the flexors and physical therapy are also beneficial in relieving the person of pain. At the same time, it is recommended that the sporting activity that worsens the condition will have to be stopped. For pain relief and increasing flexibility of the hip flexor muscles, swimming is also recommended as it works the hip joint without causing a lot of stress to it.
Recovery from the pain depends upon the severity of the injury, along with age and health of the person. A mild pain normally takes a couple of weeks to recover, whereas a severe injury may take as long as 6 weeks to recover. It is always advisable to stop doing the activities which causes strain on the hip joint. Always remember to warm up and stretch well before you start your sporting activity. There are a number of stretches which you can make use of. If you are into cycling, you may want to get your cycle seat raised to the proper height that is comfortable for you.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.