Hip Flexor Pain: Causes, Prevention Tips & Exercise Recommendations
The hip flexors are important muscles in the body because they allow lifting of the knees and bending of the waist. They are some of the strongest muscles of the body, but simple habits, like sitting too much each day, can have a profound impact on how they function.
Ironically, athletes put excess strain on their hip flexors while playing sports. Hamstring injuries, groin pulls, and stress fractures can wear down these muscles with repeated use. But at the same time, sedentary individuals who work long hours at a desk are at a high risk of hip flexor pain as well.
Here is a discussion of pain in the hips due to prolonged sittings, as well as some ideas for prevention and exercises to try.
The Risks of Prolonged Sitting
Sitting for extended periods each day for many years is one of the most common causes of hip flexor pain. The position of sitting forces the hips into a constant state of extension. Hip flexors that aren’t stretched and mobilized on a regular basis become weak and are more susceptible to injury when they are used.
If these muscles aren’t allowed to stretch and occasionally change positions, they will shrink and affect the position of the pelvis. A lack of flexibility in the hip flexors can limit one’s ability to fully extend and straighten the hip due to muscle shrinkage. All of this affects the position of the lower back and can result in lower back pain as well.
Treating Hip Flexor Pain
For individuals who work in an office, it is important to take breaks and move around throughout the day to maintain flexibility in the hip flexors and prevent hip flexor pain. Treatment for hip flexor pain ranges from applying ice to the hip muscles to stretching and taking anti-inflammatory medications. However, pain in the hips can be very difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis, so it is recommended to pursue preventative strategies well in advance of any initial pain symptoms.
Exercises for Healthy Hip Flexors
There are many different exercises that one can do to prevent hip flexor pain and keep this important muscle working well for many years to come. One of the most basic stretches for the hip flexors involves standing up straight with the feet on the floor and shoulder-width apart. With straight (but not locked) knees, lift the knee off the ground as high as it is comfortable. Hold onto a chair for support, if necessary. It’s important to keep a straight back and tighten the hip muscles while doing this stretch, and to hold it for at least a couple seconds on each leg.
Another recommended exercise involves sitting in a chair with a straight posture and raising one knee to the chest. It is important to prevent the thigh from rolling in or out while doing this movement. After a brief pause, lower the knee to the ground and switch sides.
Yoga is also an excellent exercise to practice in order to maintain hip flexibility. Many people benefit from a daily yoga session first thing in the morning to warm up their muscles for the day. Two of the best yoga poses for the hip flexors are Warrior 1 and Reclining Hero.
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