Hip Flexor Injury
What Is A Hip Flexor Injury?
If you’ve been active in sports, you’ve probably experienced a hip flexor injury. This most likely happened when you are running or kicking at something. Chances are, your hip flexor injury has been slight, although the slightest of injuries of this type can slow you down and make you think twice about continuing on with the activity you’re involved with.
A hip flexor injury isn’t an injury to the hip itself. The hip joint and socket aren’t directly involved. The hip flexors are three pairs of muscles which allow you to lift your leg and knee, while at the same time providing your lower body with a sense of balance and stability. Depending upon its severity, a hip flexor injury can cause a certain amount of pain or discomfort, cause a loss of motion at the hip, or in the worst case, immobilize you.
The Muscles Involved
The three pairs of muscles involved are:
• Rectus femoris
• Psoas major
A hip flexor injury can involve any or all of these muscles, but in most cases, only one or two are involved. As is the case with most muscles, a strain can vary in severity and fall into one of three categories:
A Class I strain is the mildest. With a Class I hip flexor injury, you may be able to continue with your physical activities, though stopping and giving the muscles involved a few days rest is preferable. The muscle has been torn, but in a Class I strain, the tears are quite small and heal quickly.
A Class II muscle strain involves a noticeable tear in the muscle. This class of strain will usually put you out of action for a time, perhaps several days or even several weeks. Your range of motion will definitely be impaired, and at the same time the hip area will probably be quite painful if you attempt to run or kick.
If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer a Class III muscle strain, you can expect to be faced with a long period of recovery. A muscle has been badly torn, perhaps even severed, and surgery may be necessary to repair it. With a Class III hip flexor injury, you could be out of action for the rest of the season. For some athletes, such a severe injury can at times be career ending.
You don’t have to be a world-class athlete, or even an amateur, to suffer a hip flexor injury. It can happen to anyone. For the non-athlete, moving the muscles quickly and with force when the muscles have not been allowed to stretch and warm up are the main cause of the injury. Muscles that have not enjoyed a great deal of use or are not warmed up through gentle stretching are notoriously susceptible to strains. Fortunately, for most of us, these strains tend not to be severe, and we simply limp around a bit for a day or two, unaware of which muscles are hurting or why they are hurting. If the pain increases and starts to spread down your leg, the strain may be more severe than first realized. If rest and the application of ice to the front of the hip and thigh don’t provide relief, a visit to your family doctor may be in order. If you begin suffering muscle spasms or experience swelling, it’s imperative to have your hip looked at.
A Reminder To Stay In Shape
A minor hip flexor injury can be a not-so-gentle reminder that it’s a good idea to stretch, work on your flexibility, and warm up before engaging in athletic pursuits of any kind. Stretching and flexing your muscles regularly will keep muscle tension to a minimum and reduce the likelihood of injury. If you’ve suffered a hip flexor injury in the past, stretching and flexing is even more important, as re-injury could lead to a chronic condition.
Your overall physical condition can play a definite role as far as the chances of your suffering such an injury are concerned. Your core or abdominal muscles play a major role here. If they are weak, your hip flexors will often try to compensate for that weakness by carrying more than their usual share of the load during strenuous activities. The flexors can become tired, and as such, are more susceptible to being injured. It is a fairly common occurrence that if one set of muscles in your body is weak or injured, other muscles try to compensate. In doing so, they can often become overstressed. A good example of this is if you have a minor injury to a leg, you tend to overcompensate when you walk to keep the pain to a minimum. In doing so, you sometimes do damage to the muscles of your good leg. The hip flexors are very good at trying to compensate for injuries or pain in other parts of the body, and consequently can become overworked or subject to movements they are not really equipped to handle.
If you do suffer a hip injury of this kind, the best treatment is rest, followed by gentle flexing of the muscles as they heal to work them back into shape.