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Ouch! Why is My Hips Hurting? (Hip Flexor Strain)

What is Hip Flexor Strain?

Hip strain is an overstretch or tear in one or more of the hip flexors. The hip flexors are located across the hip joint, attaching to the thigh bone and the lower spine and pelvis. The hip flexors comprise the iliopsoas and the rectus femoris (a branch of the quadriceps). This group of muscles are located towards the anterior aspect of the hip. Hip flexors help to lift or bend the knee towards the chest, hip strain can lead to inflammation, pain and weakness to the area.

What Causes Hip Flexor Strain?

Hip flexor strain is generally caused by overuse, where the muscles and tendons become inflamed, sore, and painful overtime. It can also be a result from an injury such as from a fall or a direct blow during contact sports. Activities which focus on the use of hip flexors are more prone to hip flexor strain. In severe cases, it may even lead to a muscle tear. Activities such as cycling, dancing, martial arts or running are more susceptible in developing hip strain.

Other risk of hip flexor strain includes: 

  • Muscle tightness
  • Prolong sitting / keeping the hip flexors in a shorten position for a long period of time
  • Weak core muscles
  • Prior injury at the same area (injured muscles are vulnerable to reinjury)
  • No proper warm up before exercising
  • Attempting to do progress too eagerly
Symptoms of Hip Flexor Strain

Pulling pain or soreness is usually present in the groin or at the anterior aspect of the hip. Considering the severity of the injury, the intensity of pain and other symptoms may affect mobility.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Muscle cramp or sharp pain on the front of the hip 
  • Difficulty in getting up from a lower chair or squat
  • Pain when lifting the knee to the chest
  • Limited range of motion 
  • Swelling
  • Muscle weakness in the front of the hip
  • Difficulty in performing in actions such as: kicking, jumping, or sprinting
  • Limping and discomfort when walking
  • Stiffness around the groin area after prolong of immobility
  • Weakness of the gluteal (buttocks) and hamstring muscles.
Treatment for Hip Flexor Strain

It is important to allow the affected muscle to rest and heal. Try to avoid exercises which trigger symptoms of pain and discomfort. Or, try to change the training regime, such as opting for swimming instead of running or cycling.

Other than that, stretching exercises are good to reduce the tension on the hip flexors to prevent future injury. Strengthening exercises of other hip muscles is also good to keep the hip stable.