What Are the Treatments for Sore Hip Flexors?
Hip flexors are a group of muscles that attaches from your lower spine and upper pelvis to your groin and upper thighs. They can get sore from overuse due to exercise and hyperactivity. This causes the muscles and the connective tissues around the hip flexors to become sensitive, tight and inflamed. The type of treatment you use would depend on the nature of the soreness, whether it is acute or chronic.
Cold and Heat Treatment
Cold treatment with an ice pack should be applied to hip flexor soreness if it is inflamed or swelled, especially if you suffer from an acute injury, such as a groin pull. This constricts your blood vessels and reduces sensitivity and pain. Sports Injury Clinic suggests that you apply cold therapy for about 20 minutes every two to three hours.
Heat treatment should be used if your suffer from chronic hip flexor soreness and stiffness. This method increases blood flow and tissue elasticity, reducing the sensitivity and increasing hip mobility. You can use a heat pack, hot water bottle or the dry sauna for heat therapy.
This method, also called SMR, is a self-massage technique used to break apart tissue adhesions around your muscles and joints that cause pain and stiffness. For your hip flexors, use a cylindrical foam roller for this treatment. Put the foam roller on the ground, and lay the left side of your hip on top of it. Prop your upper body up with your forearms and elbows, and gently massage the front of your hip and upper thigh by slowly rolling up and down. When you find a tender spot, apply a little more pressure on the spot and roll up and down the spot until the tenderness goes away. Breathe deeply as you roll to increase relaxation.
Corrective exercises address the source of pain and soreness rather than the symptom of pain. They help you improve joint mobility and strengthen weak muscles and movement patterns that cause the pain, according to fitness professional Anthony Carey, author of "Pain-Free Program." For example, hyperactive hip flexors are often caused by weak buttocks. Thus, the hip flexors and thighs do most of the work when you move, such as running and stair-climbing. A corrective exercise approach would not only stretch the hip flexors, but also strengthen your buttocks and improve hip extension and rotation to prevent further hyperactivity in your hip flexors.
For severe cases of pain and soreness, a licensed massage therapist can help you alleviate the soreness by stretching your hip flexors manually and releasing tissues in your lower back, inner and outer thighs and quadriceps. The massage session should reset your tissues and muscles to a normal state so you can perform corrective exercises to move better and prevent further pain.
- "Stretch to Win"; Ann and Chris Frederick; 2006
- "Pain-Free Program"; Anthony Carey; 2005
- Sports Injury Clinic; Hot Vs. Cold
Nick Ng has been writing fitness articles since 2003, focusing on injury prevention and exercise strategies. He has covered health for "MiaBella" magazine. Ng received his Bachelor of Arts in communications from San Diego State University in 2001 and has been a certified fitness coach with the National Academy of Sports Medicine since 2002.