Brief Outline of Hip Flexor Strain
A strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon. The hip flexor is a muscle located on the front of the hip that lifts the upper leg forward and upward or bends the waist forward when flexed. This muscle is used a lot in cycling, running, kicking, and jumping activities. When a new load is placed on the muscle or repetitive stresses are encountered without rest, the muscle may stretch or tear.
Anatomy and physiology
The hip flexor is made up of the iliopsoas (the iliacus and the psoas major) and the rectur femoris. These muscles attach to the hip on their upper attachment and the femur on the lower attachment. Their function is to pull the femur toward the abdomen, or conversely to pull the abdomen toward the legs, as in a sit-up. Runners, cyclists, soccer players, hikers, and people involved in jumping activities where the legs are lifted are all at risk of hip flexor strains.
Cause of Injury
Repetitive stress on the hip flexor muscles without adequate rest for recovery. Excessive stress placed on the muscle without appropriate strengthening and warm-up. Improper form when running, cycling or other activities that involve the hip flexors. Forceful hyperextension of the leg at the hip.
Signs and Symptoms
Pain in the upper groin area over the anterior portion of the hip. Pain with movement of the leg at the hip. Inflammation and tenderness over the hip flexor.
Complications if left unattended
Hip flexor strains left untreated can become chronic and lead to inflexible muscles that could lead to other disorders. The muscle could also continue to tear, eventually leading to a complete tearing away from the attachment.
- Stop activities that aggravate the hip flexors.
- Anti-inflammatory medicine
Rehabilitation and prevention
Conditioning is the key to rehabilitation and prevention of hip flexor strains. Muscles that are strong and flexible are much more resilient. Stretching the hip flexors, abdominals, lower back, quadriceps, and hamstrings helps to lower the stress load laced on the hip flexors. Strengthening of the iliopsoas and the other muscles of the hip, quadriceps, lower back, and abdomen will help to prevent the hip flexors for unexpected stresses.
Although the potential for chronic pain and inflexibility exists, hip flexor strains usually recovery fully when given adequate rest and then active recovery using stretching and strengthening.