An injury to the hip flexor muscle can be excruciating painful and is one of the common sports injuries. This is a very important muscle group and is sometimes overlooked during warm-up and cool down exercises. But once injury occurs it is important to take care and ensure full recovery. If you are to speed up the recovery too soon it may cause chronic and long term damage.
The anatomy of the hip is structured in a ball and socket structure. This connects what is known as the femur to the pelvis. The hip flexor muscle is a group of fibrous muscle stretching from the hip to the pelvis along the thigh. These muscles located in the front of hip allow for the forward motion when you run or walk. When you kick or sprint these muscles come under large amounts of stress. This area is known as the lesser trochanter area which is also known as the hip flexion. The counter part to this is the greater trochanter area which allows for side to side movement. It is the area at the back which joins the buttock muscles.
It is this type of stress that places strain upon the flexor muscle group. Too much stress for example from running may cause the fibres to tear. The types of strain on the hip flexor can range from grade 1 which is not too serious up until grade 3.
Grade 1 Hip Flexor Strain: Minor
Expected recovery time is usually: 7 to 14 days (two weeks).
This type of strain is common among runners. It places stress on the muscle group when moving forward. It usually results in minor fibre tears but there is still movement of the muscle group. There is sometimes little pain associated with this type of strain.
Grade 2 Hip Flexor Strain: Moderate
Expected recovery time is usually: 21 to 42 days (three-six weeks).
This type of strain would cause a lot of discomfort as there are many torn fibres around the muscle group. Extreme exertion would cause this type of injury. This grade of injury is common among cyclists. This is due to the high amount of strain from raising the thigh and knee while cycling.
Grade 3 Hip Flexor Strain: Extreme
Expected recovery time is usually: 49 to 56 days or more (seven-eight weeks).
This is the worst type of injury to the muscle group. This comes from continuous strain on the muscle group and most likely external pressures. This type of injury is common among sports athletes, like soccer, football and rugby players. This occurs due to the forward motion of the players coupled with the quick change of motion players have to do. As well as being forced to rapidly change their direction causes additional stress. This causes extreme discomfort and pain and results in complete tears of fibres, muscle and tendons. This type of injury may even need surgery to repair the torn away ligaments. When you suffer from a grade 3 injury you should seek immediate medical attention.
It is precautionary rule to always perform good warm up and cool down exercises to prevent injury. But injuries still do occur and it’s sometimes beyond your control what may happen. It is a good rule of thumb before physical activity to perform stretching exercises. Having said so, what happens when you do suffer a hip flexor strain and How to recover from hip flexor strain faster? Starts with a trip to the doctor for an assessment of your injury. Its always best to get your doctors advice as they can best assess the extent of the injury and which grade it would be.
After receiving an assessment of your injury you can follow these steps of how to recover from hip flexor strain faster. The rule of thumb to follow with all sports type injuries is what is termed PRICE. What it stands for is protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Following these steps below will help you know how to recover from hip flexor strain faster;
Step one: Protection
The first thing to do is protect yourself from further injuring yourself. You should not try and get up yourself without support. The effect of this is that you may further injure yourself. Once you suspect that you have injured your hip flexor region, immediately ask for assistance. Use supports to balance your weight and do not apply pressure. Its important to understand that the hip flexor muscles play an important role in the functioning of your body. Too much strain after exerting this muscle group can easily cause all the ligaments to rupture. That means going from the minor grade 1 injury to the serious grade 3.
Step two: Ample bed rest
The next and fastest way to recover from this type of injury is to rest. This is the most important thing following an injury. To relieve strain on the muscle requires a lot of rest. You should rest for the a minimum of two weeks depending on the severity of the injury. You should not place any strain on the leg and abdominal area. When laying bed ensure that your legs are elevated so that strain is relieved from the hip area. You should not try and lift your legs or do any stretching exercises following this injury. Rest is best in this instance and will go a long way to assisting in the recovery and from reoccurrence of the injury.
Step three: Ice therapy
This type of injury will cause you a lot of discomfort and pain, especially a grade 3 injury. If this is the case in addition to bed rest you will need to ice the painful area for 30 to 45 minutes. The injury will cause swelling around the affected area and ice therapy will reduce the swelling and pain. You should perform the ice therapy every three to four hours. One of the best ice packs to use is the THE COLDEST WATER reusable ice packs. This ice pack is affordable and engineered by sports injury specialists. Learn more about the Coldest Water reusable ice packs here.
Step four: Compression
The affected area would need to be compressed to counter-act the swelling. The compression of the muscles stimulates blood circulation which assists in the healing process. You can couple the ice therapy with a good amount of pressure on hip flexor area.
Step five: Take medication
During your visit to the doctor, they would most likely prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medication. This is for your benefit and you should follow the directions for the medication. Especially when you are suffering a grade 2 and 3 strain. The pain can be excruciating as this muscle group joins the upper and lower part of your body. Use the anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and for pain medication to relieve the pain. Do not take any medication without consulting your physician and follow the prescribed dosage.
Step six: Rehabilitation
After a few days you will start to feel the pain subside and see that the swelling has decreased. It is important to note that does not mean you are healed rather you on the road to recovery. To avoid having a set back do not try and build strength in the affected area this could cause further injury. Therefore it is advisable to first take baby steps, literally, and see how your body reacts. Once you are comfortable try and do light stretching on the affected area. Note that you should not try and speed your recovery by exerting yourself.
The types of stretches you should focus on are and will help you know How to recover from hip flexor strain faster:
Stretching the hip flexor region with light exercises after recovery is important. This will assist to get you up and running again without the injury re-occurring. It is important to do the following stretches to strengthen the hip flexor area;
Quadriceps stretching which can be down either sitting or standing:
This is a very good stretch as you target both the thigh and the hip flexor muscle at the same time. You position yourself standing holding onto a table or chair. Then with your right hand you reach down to your right ankle and pull it up towards you. You hold this for 30 seconds and repeat it three to five times.
Yoga is another good form of stretching to help stretch the hip flexor:
Downward facing frog:
The good thing about yoga stretches is that it can be done on the floor. So there is no added stress placed on the hip flexor region. You position yourself facing downwards, with your hands, elbows and knee’s firmly on the ground. You push your legs apart and will feel the hip area stretch. If you feel strain on your ankles and knees place a pillow under it.
Doing the perfect pose in yoga:
This should be used when you have made a full recovery from the injury. As this pose is a bit strenuous but stretches the hips, the ankles and back. This pose you will sit flat on your bottom and fold your legs in front of you. This pose has been used by yogis to centre themselves and used in meditation. It will also alleviate tension and stress on the hip and back.
The hip hinge:
This is a good warm-up stretch and the method would support your injury. In a standing position place your hands on your back. On the tip of your toes stretch upwards while arching your back. You will feel the stretch of your hip flexor as well as the quads.
Beyond stretching once you have recovered it would be good to do strength exercises of the hip. As pointed out above the best way to on how to recover from a hip flexor muscle strain faster is to prevent it. And the best way to prevent it is build strength firstly with the stretches above and strength training.
The full boat pose suggested by yogis in the know:
This is one of those poses which require a lot from you. Therefore it is advisable to do so only once you have fully recovered. But it is one that will help build and strengthen your hip area. You begin with your legs flat in front of you. Then you proceed with arching your hands behind your back and then lift your legs in front of you. Your legs will be parallel to your torso as you arch your back. Then once your legs form a V-shape in front of you, your raise your hands forming a complete V-shape. You will need to hold this pose for longer than 30 seconds.
These following exercises will help you to keep the hip flexor area strong and prevent injuries.
Many people will cringe at this exercise but it is one of the best strength building exercises. Beyond assisting in the hamstring and thigh muscle area, it also stretches and builds the hip. You should perform this exercise with a mat underneath you to prevent injury to your knees. If you do suffer from knee problems do not attempt this exercise. Lunges have been preferred by many athletic runners and for good reason. You start from a standing positing and place one leg in front of you. Then you bend your second leg towards the ground ensuring that the knee is parallel to the ground. You can hold this position for about 30 to 90 seconds and then repeat on the other leg. A set of 10 to 15 lunges will ensure a good strong build up in the hip, thighs and hamstring.
Wall squats or assisted squats:
It may seem that this list contains the worse exercises known to man, but they work for a reason. The wall squat or assisted squat is preferred for people who recently suffered injury to the hip, thigh and knee. This is a simple exercise compared to free standing squats. Stand with your back supported by a wall and been your legs until you form 90 degree angles. Hold this position for 30 to 90 seconds. The effect is that you will immediately feel relief from pain and stretch those affect muscle groups. It is advisable to perform these exercises with a partner in the event you are unable to return to your starting position.
A hip flexor injury is a very serious injury and the fastest way to recover is to look after yourself by following the above steps. Second, bearing in mind you know your body better than anyone, you should not over exert yourself. Especially if you have not performed a physical exercise for a long time. Many physicians have stated that common sports injuries can be avoided if you condition your body. Therefore you should stretch, exercise to obtain the best out of your physical activity. Thirdly, you should maintain good movement when at work and try not to sit for long periods of time. This contributes to stiff joints and weakened hips.
Should you get injured then follow these steps to a full recovery. A good ice therapy for 30 to 45 minutes every three to four hours will help alleviate pain and swelling. The coldest water reusable ice-pack has been engineered for this need. It can be used hot or cold and was engineered by engineers. And it will assist you know how to recover from hip flexor strain faster.