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What Is a Hip Flexor?

It is the name give to a collection of skeletal muscles that act together to pull the knee in an upward direction by flexing the thigh bone (femur) over the lumbo-pelvic complex.

Where Is Your Hip Flexor?

These muscles are mainly located in the anterior part of the upper hip or thigh.

Hip Flexor Stretches

hip flexor
Picture 1 – Hip Flexor Stretch
Source – fmtrainging

Typical workouts often lack stretching exercises in the routine, especially for the Hip Flexor. Some of the most effective hip flexor stretching exercises involves :

Supine Stretch

Position yourself in a flat back or supine posture. Bend and pull one leg onto your chest while extending the other leg at the same time in a straight direction before you and ultimately resting it over the floor. This will stretch the hip flexor muscles. One you hug a leg to your chest, you should hold the posture for around 20 seconds.

Relaxation Stretch

Lie flat on your back. Pull your knees towards yourself while keeping both feet over the ground and around 15 inches away from your buttocks. Keep your hands and arms relaxed beside yourself or on your stomach.

Once you have achieved this position, pull your bones towards the ground. You will start noticing that the distribution of weight will increase all through your body when the hip flexor muscles begin to release.

Seated Hip Flexor Stretch

This is a more intense type of hip flexor stretch and can relax extreme tightness of your muscles. Kneel down over a mat or any soft surface. From this posture, slowly lower down your buttocks in the direction of your heels. Start sliding it out before you while you are keeping the right leg in a bent posture. Start making the left leg straight behind you and ultimately extending it out in a straight direction. Let it rest over the ground with the knee pointing downwards.

Use your arms to support the weight of your body. Bend forward and shift over your right hip into a seated posture. Hold this posture for 20 seconds or more. Switch legs.

Prone Quad Stretch

Roll over the floor on your stomach and lie flat. Lie with a flat back. Keep your legs and neck in a relaxed position. Start raising your right foot and flex it at the knee. Lift your body slightly, reaching your back and using your right hand to grab your right foot. Use an exercise belt or strap to secure your foot in case you find it difficult to reach it. Pull up your leg upward and hold the stretch for about 20 seconds. You should then perform the same quad stretch with the use of your left leg.

Hip Flexor Stretches Video

Check out the video of some of the stretches of hip flexor to know more about it.

Hip Flexor Strengthening Exercises

Trauma to the hip flexor muscles can be prevented by strengthening them with the aid of exercises. Exercises involve flexion of hip muscles. The aim of exercises is to make them strong enough to avoid getting injured due to stretching during daily activities and athletic actions.

Some of the main exercises used for strengthening the hip muscles are

Elbow Instep Lunge

This workout strengthens the thighs, gluteal muscles and hip flexors at the same time. You have to perform this exercise by standing with arms at your sides and your feet together. Take a step in the front direction with your right foot. Lower yourself by bending your knees and achieving a lunging posture. Lean forward while doing this and place your right elbow on the right thigh. You should also place the left hand flat over the floor. Gradually step back to the point where you began. Repeat the action with your other leg.

Perform the workout back and forth alternately with each leg. Do not allow your hind knee to touch the floor while you are in a lunging position. You can make the workout tougher by touching the floor with your hand rather than placing your elbow over your thigh.

Inner Hip Flexion

Fasten an ankle strap the strap to your lower right leg. Stand straight with your back facing towards a weight stack while keeping your right leg behind your body at the same time. Raise your foot from the floor and also pull up your knee before your body until your thigh is in a parallel position to the floor. Slowly bring your leg back down to the starting point. Repeat the process for several times. Switch sides after performing a set of repetitions.

Leg Lifts

Lie down on the floor. Place your hands at the sides of your body. Raise your legs until they are in a right angle (90-degree angle) to your body. Gradually lower them down, until they are about an inch from the floor surface. Repeat the process. Place your hands beneath your tailbone if you experience stress on your lower back.

If you find this exercise too easy to perform, you can make it more rigorous by wearing ankle weights. You may also wrap your lower legs with a rubber resistance band and pull it against your legs. You may need the help of a family member or a training partner to do this.

Hip Flexor Injury

As the name indicates, this refers to an injury of the Hip Flexor muscles. The condition is also known as Hip Pain Strain and is caused by an overstressing of the Hip Flexor muscles. This usually happens due to over-exercise, cleaning of the house or any other activity that puts the said muscles under extreme stress.

The main symptoms of this condition involve pain and tenderness in the back, the hip and the leg. Hip Pain Strain is another name for this traumatic condition of the hip.

The muscles of the hip are usually very strong as they aid in sitting and walking as well as for performing athletic functions like jumping and running. However, these muscles can suffer injuries as much as any other muscle in the body. Overstressing of hip flexor muscles can give rise to pain and other discomforting symptoms. However, a person can even suffer a hip trauma by performing very simple activities like walking, bending to pick up things and even stretching across the bed.  This may happen due to extreme extension of the hip muscles.

The condition may also arise due to other factors, such as

  • Acute trauma
  • Reduced strength
  • Poor flexibility
  • Weak muscles in the lower abdomen

If you are suffering from this condition, it is advisable that you return to activities after complete recovery. Engaging in sports or strenuous activities too soon can worsen your trauma and result in permanent injury. Return to activities depends on the extent of injury as well as the rate of recovery. Generally, the longer a person leaves the condition untreated the longer the time for recovery is.

These injuries may be prevented by performing proper warm-ups and stretching exercises prior to exercise or strenuous activities.

Hip Flexor Pain

A strain in the Hip Flexor muscle often gives rise to pain in the anterior region of the hip. The strain commonly affects the IlioPsoas muscle that comprises of the Iliacus and the Psoas muscles. A Hip Flexor strain gives rise to an injurious condition known as IlioPsoas Syndrome.

The extent of pain depends on the severity of the muscular damage. Pain in the hip can arise abruptly and is sensed in the anterior (front) part of the thigh. The pain may expand in a downward direction and get aggravated with forward or upward motion of the injured leg.

The pain in the hip may make it difficult for sufferers to engage in physically stressful activities such as running and other exercises. In some cases, even walking may give rise to physical agony. In some cases, pain in the hip muscles is associated with inflammation and bruising.

Hip pain can arise due to abrupt injury to any of the three muscles like Psoas Major, Rectus Femoris and Illiacus. Pain can be reduced and even treated with the aid of rest and ice application.

Hip Flexor and Tendonitis

Excessive pressure on the hip flexors can also give rise to Tendonitis problems. IlioPsoas Tendonitis and Iliopsoas bursitis are two common problems arising from overstress of these muscles. These conditions are marked by an inflammation of specific tendons and muscles in the hip.

Hip Flexor Tightness

Excessive stress on the hip flexors can strain them and make them extremely tight. Tightness of the hip flexors usually occurs due to sitting or cycling for long periods of time, performing ice sports or lifting heavy objects. The IlioPsoas muscle is one of the deepest and largest of the hip flexors and it is a common site of injury.

Strain in the IlioPsoas muscles can give rise to various discomforts. Some of the common Hip Flexor strain symptoms involve pain in the middle and lower back, hips, upper buttocks, pelvic floor, abdomen and the groin.

Hip Flexor Injury Treatment

If you doubt yourself to be having this condition, stop all activities that you suspect to be a causative factor. Immediately get in touch with a health professional and get a proper diagnosis done. Doctors, sports trainers, chiropractors and physical therapists can properly cure an injured Hip Flexor.

A mild injury of this group of muscles can be treated with rest and application of ice. Apply ice to the injured area for 15- 20 minutes after every ten minutes. Continue this for an hour, once in the morning and once again in the evening. This will help the area heal sooner than later. It is also necessary to avoid any activity that puts excess pressure over the muscles.

Sleep on the uninjured side of your body. Place a pillow in between your knees to avoid causing strain to the injured hip. A non-sticky, odorless over-the-counter analgesic cream called Arnica is also available to reduce painful sensations and inflammation in the leg and hip.

Hip Flexor Exercises with Bands

Hip flexor workouts are often performed with the aid of an exercise band, which helps strengthen the hip flexor muscle. The exercise can be performed very easily. Just step onto one extremity of the workout band with your left foot. Make a loop with the other end over the upper region of your right leg. Form a loop with the band back down. This will enable you to step back onto the other extremity of the band with your left foot and keep it in position. Raise your right leg that you had bent until now to rest against the band and operate your right hip flexors. Gradually lower your leg. Wrap the band around the upper area of the left leg once you have finished exercising with the right leg.

There is another exercise with the resistance band that provides practitioners with great resistance and improves stability on the support leg.  Fix one end of the band to some secure object and wrap the other end around the ankle. Slightly lean forward and flex the ankle, driving the knee as high as you can. Hold each repetition for a second at the top to maximize the effect of training and concentrating at the same time on flexion at the knee, dorsiflexion (backward flexion) at the ankle and an upright position that is free of too much rotation. The spine makes an attempt to rotate and balance the movement. However, you should try to keep a neutral position to increase the worth of spinal stability during the workout.  You should use a comparatively light band as heavier bands can be too strong at the top of the movement.

The exercise can be performed without any hand support. However, it is better for beginners to hold something in order to get more stability at higher resistances.

If you suspect to be having an injury in the hip flexor muscle, stop all your activities and get in touch with a health care provider. Professional caregivers for this condition can be doctors, sports trainer, chiropractors or even physical therapists.

References:

http://www.speedandstrengthcoach.com/Hip_Flexion.html

http://www.pulled-muscle.com/hip-flexor-injury/pulled-hip-flexor-symptoms-causes.php

http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/h/hip_flexor_strain/intro.htm

http://www.migraine-headaches-solution.com/hip-flexor-strain-treatment-exercises-tips/


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