Have you suddenly experienced pain near your hip, or in your groin? Does it hurt to raise your knee to your chest? Maybe your thigh muscles spasm when you walk or run? You could have a hip flexor strain.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles that attach near, and cross over the front of your hip. Your chiropractor might mention them by name. The primary flexors are the iliopsoas and the sartorius. The secondary flexors are the adductor brevis and gracilis. Regardless of their names, their job is to flex the hip. They are the reason you can bring your knee towards your chest, and bend forward at the waist.
As with all muscles, the hip flexors can be strained through overuse, over-stretching, or being forced to lengthen too far. Imagine having an elastic band attached to each end of a protractor, then wrenching the ends apart. The elastic band might sustain a small or large tear. The effect is similar in your muscles.
There are a wide variety of activities that involve the actions that have the potential to cause damage, especially when they are executed with force. Some examples are:
- A cyclist quickly pulling their knee upward to enable faster peddling
- An Aussie rules player dispensing a beautiful torpedo punt
- A ballet dancer leaping into a grand jeté
- A martial artist kicking their foot up and towards the sky
While the usual cause of injury is a sporting activity; slips or direct trauma can also cause a hip flexor tear.
Symptoms can vary from mild to severe, depending on the extent of the strain. Tenderness and pain will likely occur at the site. Swelling, bruising, a reduced range of motion, a pulling sensation at the front of the hip, and a painful limp might be experienced too.
Your health professional can identify the problem, assess any contributing factors, provide appropriate treatment, and restore lost flexibility. Active stretching involves using one muscle group to stretch another. Passive stretching, as the name suggests, uses an outside force to achieve the required stretch. This might be a person, a resistance band, or even gravity.
If you believe you could have a hip flexor tear or strain, or you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it’s important to seek help early. The best way to a speedy recovery is early identification and intervention.
This article first appeared in the July/August edition of Your Chiropractor.