Release Your Hip Flexors: Groin Stretch 101
Hip Flexor Strain Symptoms
The hip flexors are two muscles located at the front of your thigh. They control movement of your leg when standing or walking. When they become tight, it causes pain in the area around them (see image).
This is because they attach directly to the sciatic nerve which runs through your lower back and down into your pelvis.
When the hip flexors become strained, there may be other symptoms such as:
Pain in your lower back or low back
Feeling like you have to bend over too far to walk properly, especially if you have a hard time getting up from a chair or stool. You might even fall over! This is due to the fact that your legs don’t move freely enough and your body weight is placed on one side of your hips instead of both sides.
You might feel like you need to stoop down or crouch down so much that you cannot stand straight up. This is because your legs do not have enough range of motion anymore.
Your knees may start hurting after sitting for long periods of time. If you sit with your feet together, it will cause pain in the bottom part of your knee joint. This is due to the fact that the space between your toes becomes smaller and smaller while sitting.
When you stand up, your legs are not used to the new position and do not stretch out properly causing pain.
Related: hip flexor pain relief (hip soreness), Release Your Hip Flexors: Groin Stretch 101 (treatment for hip pain)
Hip Flexor Tear Symptoms
A strain is a stretch or tear in a muscle or ligament that may cause some bruising or slight bleeding in the affected area. This is usually minor and does not require any medication or a doctor. A strain can be caused by over-exercising or moving a part of your body in a way that it is not used to.
It can also happen when you suddenly increase the intensity of your activity level.
Hip flexor tearing is usually caused by an accident or fall, which causes powerful twisting motions at your hips, such as in martial arts or soccer. Another common cause is a car accident or fall that causes a powerful impact to your hip bones.
Other symptoms of a hip flexor tear include:
Groin stitches or other lower abdominal pains, this may be due to muscles tearing in the abdomen.
Pain that worsens when walking up and down stairs or hills.
Worsening or sudden onset of groin pain during sporting activity.
Releasing Your Hip Flexors: Groin Stretch 101
There are two major hip flexor muscles, the psoas and iliacus. Both of these can become strained due to repetitive use or, as is more common, rapid changes in activity level or load. These changes can be sudden increases in activity level or an increased load (weight gain).
Other muscles can become strained as well due to a rapid increase in activity such as the rectus femoris,TFL (transverse fibrous ligament), gluteus medius, and piriformis. Muscle strains are common in sports that require repetitive running or jumping such as soccer, football, and track.
If you have any of the hip flexor symptoms mentioned above, please see a physician immediately.
If you have a hip flexor strain, there are several ways to relieve the pain. The best way is rest and having your hip muscles stretched by a physical therapist or trained professional. In the meantime, there are some ways you can start to help relieve your hip flexor pain.
You can apply ice or cold therapy to the affected area. This will help keep the swelling down and reduce some of the pain. Please see our section on how to apply ice for some helpful tips and other methods such as using cold therapy wraps.
The second way to help with the pain is over-the-counter pain medication. Be sure to check with your doctor first if you are not sure what type of pain medication is right for you. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen can be very effective in reducing the pain and inflammation in your hip flexor strain.
Please do not take more than the recommended dose without consulting your physician.
A third method to help relieve hip flexor pain is using a tens machine. Tens machines send tiny electrical impulses to the muscles, which can help to stimulate them and make them contract and relax. This in turn can alleviate pain and the tens machine can be very effective for hip pain relief as well as many other types of pain such as lower back pain.
Another way to help reduce hip flexor pain and speed up healing is using a pillow when you sleep at night. The pillow should be placed between your knees and under your thighs when you lie on your side. This positions puts a bit of space between the hamstring and the groin and helps to relieve some of the strain on the muscles.
Using this technique every night will help to keep the hip flexors from becoming strained or inflamed in the first place.
A final way to reduce hip flexor pain is using a foam roller. Using a foam roller regularly will help keep your muscles flexible and can help to release any scar tissue that has built up. This in turn can reduce muscle tension and pain.
It can be used on many different muscles but we will focus on using it for your hip flexors.
To use a foam roller for your hip flexors, position yourself on the floor on your side. Slowly roll back and forth gently applying pressure to your hip flexor muscles. Start at the top of your thigh and slowly work your way down to the middle of your thigh.
Be sure not to put too much pressure or go too fast. Gently rolling over the area will help to release the muscles and keep them from becoming strained in the future.
These are just a few of the hip flexor exercises and treatments that you can use to help relieve pain and begin the healing process. As you begin to feel better and your hip flexors start to heal, you will begin to feel more strength and energy and can start doing some of the activities you like to do again.
Hip Flexor Exercises And Stretches
Although there are many different hip flexor stretches and exercises that can help improve the flexibility and strength of the hip flexors, in this section we will look at three of them. These three exercises are considered to be the best hip flexor stretches and can easily be performed at home or at the gym to improve hip flexibility and strength.
The first hip flexor stretch we will look at is called the Cross-Over Stretch. This is a good one for beginners to do as it is less strenuous on the body but still works to strengthen and stretch the hip flexors.
To perform the Cross-Over Stretch, you will need a yoga mat or carpet to lay on and a resistance band. First, kneel on the floor and tie the band around one leg from the bottom and then tie it again around the other leg a few feet higher up. You want there to be a significant amount of tension in the band when you stand upright.
This will be your starting position.
From here, simply cross your legs and then slowly lean forward over the band until you feel a stretch in your hip flexors. Make sure to keep your back straight and move slowly. Once you feel the stretch, hold that position for about 30 seconds and then relax and repeat the process with the other leg.
The second hip flexor stretch we will look at is called the Single Leg Stretch. This is a good one for those that are more experienced in doing hip flexor stretches as it requires more balance and flexibility.
To perform the Single Leg Stretch, you will need a flat surface about 2 feet high that can easily be climbed up on. You will also need a resistance band for this stretch. First, stand in front of the bench (or something similar) and place one leg on it so one foot is on the bench and the other is still on the ground.
Then cross the band under the foot that is on the bench.
From here, slowly bend at the hip while keeping the other leg straight and stepping up onto the bench with the other foot. Your weight should be mostly on the foot that is on the bench but you will need to place some of your weight on the foot on the ground as well to keep your balance. From here, hold this position for about 30 seconds and then slowly step back down.
You can then switch legs and perform the same exercise with the other leg.
The third hip flexor stretch we will look at is called the Lying Extension Stretch. This is a more advanced stretch and you will need a resistance band for this one as well.
To perform the Lying Extension Stretch, you will need to kneel on all fours and place the band under your front foot.
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