Hip Flexor Injury

The Painful Truth About Hip Flexor Injury

If you’ve watched any football, you have no doubt heard of a hip flexor injury.  But hip flexor injuries are not just for professional football players.  Athletes in other sports such as soccer, hockey, and even dance are candidates for hip flexor injuries.  Any sport or activity where a player engages in forceful kicks or makes sudden cuts and bursts into runs will have a high number of hip flexor injuries.  Nor are amateur athletes the only ones who suffer from these painful injuries.

Symptoms:

Although there may be swelling or other types of extreme muscle strain, the main symptom of a hip flexor injury is extreme and motion limiting pain.  The sufferer will find any type of hip motion very, very painful.  Even walking will be painful after a hip flexor injury.

The Hip Muscles:

The hip flexors are a constellation of three muscles that aid us in twisting and turning our bodies at the hip.  When these muscles become strained, the sufferer loses flexibility and finds his range of motion very severely limited.

Causes:

There are four main causes of hip flexor injury.  First, and often the most common cause in amateur athletes is failure to warm up properly.  Amateur athletes often neglect proper warm-up and just jump into activity.  This greatly increases the chances that muscle strain will lead to injury not only in the hips but also throughout the body.

Second, if the athlete is compensating for weakness in the surrounding muscles, then a hip flexor injury is more likely.  Often when an athlete is playing with an injury to the muscles of the lower body, the hip flexor muscles will try to take on a bigger role in the motions required.  This increase in use increases the strain on the hip muscles and makes the chances of a hip injury greater. 

Third, powerful impacts or motions can cause hip flexor injuries, especially if they are repeated several times in a short period of time.  Even if an athlete has undergone a proper warm-up, sometimes the strain of repeated activity can add to the chances of an injury.  Poor conditioning in the leg muscles may also cause this extra strain on the hip muscles.

Fourth, and last, a history of hip flexor injuries is one of the best predictors of future hip flexor injury.  So once you have suffered a hip flexor injury you will want to be extra attentive to the preventive measures listed below.

Preventing Hip Flexor Injuries:


The easiest way to prevent hip flexor injuries is to warm up properly before activities.  Stretches that focus on flexibility of the hip muscles will decrease the chances of muscle strain leading to injury.  This is especially important if you have suffered hip muscle injuries in the past.

Increasing the strength of surrounding muscles also helps to decrease the chance of injury since the better distributed your muscle activity is, the less the chance that any one group of muscles will feel the need to do extra work during extreme activities.  The more solid and well distributed your muscle use is the better you will function as an athlete.

Think of it like a football team.  If your defense is weak, your offense feels as if it must score extra points in order for your team to succeed.  Similarly, if your offense is one-dimensional and only runs the ball, managing few points, then your defense feels as if they must stop your opponents on every drive.  Inevitably, this leads to mistakes and breakdowns even in the strong portion of your team.  The high-powered offense turns the ball over trying to keep scoring; the great defense gets caught desperately blitzing in order to prevent points.

Similarly, your muscles need to all work together and equally contribute; otherwise, the added strain is likely to lead to injury.