Hip Flexor Strain

Facts about Hip Flexor Strain

Exercising any part of the body can incur damage to the hip flexor; strain of this group of muscles is the most commonly seen injury.  Generally caused through sudden, volatile bursts of movement, the strain can be very painful.

About the hip flexor

There are three muscles included in the group called hip flexors.  The rectus femoris, psoas major and illiacus all combine efforts to both contract the hip and to stabilize the legs.  These muscle groups cover a large portion of the hip area; from the lower spine and pelvis down to the femur.  They are used while walking, running, jumping, kicking; virtually any mobility movement.

Injuring this group of muscles often occurs to those who participate in sports.  Breaking into a fast spurt run from a standing position, performing quick movements in a zigzag pattern, sudden or extended kicks or going from a crouching position into a jump are all common sports moves that can result in straining of these muscles.  This type of injury happens when:


It will be evident that a strain has occurred when the pain radiates from the hip down toward the knee.  The true tell will be when attempting to pull the knee up to the chest.  In rare cases, some swelling may also occur.


When pain indicates a hip flexor strain, it is recommended to have the injury examined by a doctor.  Once the strain is confirmed, the doctor will likely suggest full rest of the leg and hip to allow healing.  Icing the area helps to reduce inflammation; this will, in turn, help to alleviate the pain felt. Ice packs or even bags of frozen peas work very well for this purpose.  Over the counter pain medications can be helpful as well.

As the pain begins to subside, slowly working the muscles can strengthen and stretch them.  It is important to begin rehabilitating the hip flexor at a slow pace in order to ease them back into action and avoid exacerbating the injury.  This type of injury tends to repeat, especially in cases when the individual returns to normal activities too quickly.


It is easier to prevent the injury than to recover from it.  Exercise is an essential activity for every person of every age for many reasons, but especially to keep the body flexible, toned and strong.  Muscles lose mass, strength and flexibility when they go unused for a period of time, a condition which makes them more likely to sustain injury when quickly called into action.  Exercise can be smooth and fluid such as with yoga or tai chi, or it may be strength building as in kick boxing.

Before participating in any type of exercise or sport, it is vital to warm up the muscles for a minimum of 5 minutes.  Doing so gently loosens tight muscles and gets them ready for more active movements.  Even walking requires the muscles to be stretched before starting.

The best course of action to avoid hip flexor strain is to fully prepare the muscles prior to any activities by warming up before exercise or sports.  If the injury does occur, resting and icing the area will help it to heal.  A slow return to normal activities will ensure that full rehabilitation takes place; decreasing the opportunity for the injury to repeat.  Although this injury is a very common one among anyone participating in sports, it is also an easy one to avoid.