Where Is The Hip Flexor
Everyone knows all about the hamstring, the quad, the groin, but the hip flexor gets far less exposure, even though it is just as important as any other muscle in your body and is just as often at risk of an injury, most commonly a hip flexor strain. A hip flexor is a muscle group located towards the front of your leg/abdomen it is composed of smaller, but sizeable muscles as shown in the picture. When looking at what the hip flexors do, we must examine the role that the Psoas and Iliacus play in movement these are the two main muscles in the Iliopsoas, which is by far the largest and most important muscle group in the hip flexor.
How Do Hip Flexor Strains Affect My Body
Your hip flexors run across the bottom of your abdomen and down the top of your hips. Like all of your muscles, your hip flexors are made of thousands of small fibers woven together. These fibers stretching and pressing together is what allows your body to move when you squeeze a muscle.
When you overuse a muscle, the strands of muscle fiber are stretched beyond their limit and tear apart. If youve ever tried to use an old bungee cord to hold something in place youve seen this happen. New bungee cords and healthy muscle fibers have plenty of give and stretch. But if you use them for too long or suddenly jerk on them too hard, the elastic fibers in the bungee cord will start to pull apart. Its the same way in your muscles. Strains are what happen when some of the thousands of fibers in your muscles are pulled beyond their limit and tear.
In addition to being painful, a hip flexor strain might make it hard to walk or move without pain. Your hip and leg might feel weak or unstable. They might also cause other symptoms like bruising.
Abdominal Muscles As Proximal Stabilizers For The Hip Flexors
The hip flexor muscles are used for a variety of everyday functional activities such as advancing the lower extremity during gait, running, or lifting the leg when going up steps. Efficient execution of these hip flexion activities is highly dependent on the stabilizing forces provided by the abdominal muscles. This important point is nicely illustrated by analyzing the role of the rectus abdominis muscle while performing a straight leg raise. Fig. 9.24A shows two primary hip flexor muscles generating a force to lift a fully extended lower extremity. The relatively long extended leg places very large force demands on the hip flexor muscles. To successfully perform this action, the hip flexors must produce a force that likely exceeds 10 times the weight of the leg. With weakened abdominal muscles, attempts at flexing the leg often result in an unwanted anterior pelvic tilt and associated excessive lumbar lordosis . The unstable pelvis and lumbar spine are pulled toward the anterior femurinto an anterior pelvic tiltbecause the pelvis and the lumbar spine are more free to move than the leg. To prevent this, the abdominal muscles produce a posterior tilting force that stabilizes the pelvis . As is shown in Fig. 9.24B, the unwanted anterior tilt of the pelvis simultaneously increases the lordosis in the lumbar spine. For this reason, excessive lumbar lordosis is often a clinical sign of weak abdominal muscles.
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Hip Flexor Strain Symptoms
Many people who experience hip flexor strains will also have the following symptoms:
- Sharp and sudden pain in the hip area
- Stiffness, weakness and cramping of muscles in the upper leg area
- Swelling around the injury
- Pain when lifting the leg
- Muscle spasms in the hip or thigh area
- Inability to jump, kick or sprint
- Discomfort when moving
- Reduced mobility
Hip Flexor Strains Or Tears
Hip flexor strains or tears happen when a muscle or tendon is stretched too far. This occurs when someone makes a sudden movement like changing direction while running. Hip flexor tears can range from mild to severe and are often classified in different grades.
Grade I Tear
This is a minor tear that occurs when only a few fibers are damaged.
Grade II Tear
When there is a moderate loss of hip flexor function and a significant number of damaged muscle fibers, the tear is diagnosed as grade two.
Grade III Tear
This is the most significant injury. This happens when the muscle is completely torn or ruptured. When this happens it is nearly impossible to walk without a limp.
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Why Does My Lower Back Arch So Much
Some people experience what is called excessive lumbar lordosis where their lower back arches too much. Because of the long length of the psoas, attaching at the top of the lumbar spine and running all the way to the inside of the femur, it does a good job of extending the low back and creating an anterior pelvic tilt. This motion is best seen when sitting when you create extension in your spine to sit with a lumbar curve. Slouching in your chair relaxes the psoas, sitting in good posture activates the psoas . People who have psoas tension tend to have an excessive arch in their spine when they stand or lay down as well.
How Hip Flexor Injuries Occur
The hip flexors are a group of pliable muscles that let you move with ease, more efficiently. Connecting the femur to the back, groin and hips, these muscles help coordinate the top and lower portions of your body, playing a key role in bending down and lifting your legs.
Hip flexors include:
- The iliopsoas two muscles designed to support your lower back
- The rectus femoris connects the pelvis to the knee
- The Sartoris helps increase flexible movement in your legs
- The pectineus helps with thigh movement
When this area gets overworked, injury can result.
Common incidents include:
- Overuse or overstretching injuries, resulting in sharp pain and reduced mobility
- Hip flexor strain, in which the muscles are torn, pulled or otherwise injured
- Sprains, in which neighboring muscle and bone experience damage
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What Are The Activity Restrictions Once You Get A Hip Flexor Strain
As one of the consequences of overuse, you can improve a hip flexor strain by avoiding strenuous activity for at least 10-14 days after injury. If the pain still persists once youve resumed activities, it is better that you focus on just resting your hip muscles first.
While you rest the area, some doctors may recommend that you gradually introduce light exercises, like swimming, to avoid straining the hip flexors.
For severe strain, regular sessions with a physical therapist can help to stretch and strengthen the hip flexor muscles, and others that surround and support the area. A therapist can also properly guide you on how to increase your activity level so you can return to your usual activities.
Proper warming-up and cooling down before and after exercise is important to avoid future hip flexor strains. Wearing the appropriate protective gear for the sport you engage in prevents this type of injury and other serious damage. Should you ever experience a hip flexor strain, you have to let your body recover first before returning to your normal activity levels. Failure to modify your activities may lead to further injury.
Key Points About Hip Flexor Tear Or Strain
- Hip flexor tears or strains can occur from overusing the muscle groups that make up the hip flexor.
- The most common symptom someone with a hip flexor tear or strain will have is hip pain. However, other symptoms may include swelling, bruising, and tenderness.
- A hip flexor tear or strain can be diagnosed in a full medical exam by your doctor.
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How To Identify And Correct Tight Hip Flexors
Reading Time: 7 minutes
âTight hip flexorsâ is a popular term in gyms and fitness studios around the country. People in yoga studios are stretching hip flexors, runners are blaming a short stride and injuries on these muscles, and your clients are probably asking you about their own tight hips.
Itâs important to understand exactly what it means to have tight hip flexors so you can help your clients. They may genuinely have tight muscles in the hips that need stretching, but they may also need to strengthen the hip flexors or related muscles, like the glutes or core.
Tackle the issue with information so you can determine if your clients really do have tight hips or if there is another problem. With a few new stretches and exercises, you can help those with tight hip flexors loosen them up, get better mobility with less pain, and avoid injuries.
Want to help your clients achieve better results and reduce their chance of injury? Get the knowledge you need with ISSAâs Glute Specialist Certification.
What Are the Hip Flexors?
First, help your clients understand what the hip flexors are, what they do, and how you know when theyâre tight. The term hip flexors refers to a group of muscles in and around the hips that help move the legs and the trunk together, as when you lift your leg up, bending at the hip.
The Hip Flexor Muscle Group
The hip flexor includes the following:
Signs You Have Tight Hip Flexors
What Causes Tight Hip Flexors?
Symptoms Of A Hip Flexor Tear Or Strain
Sudden hip pain is the most common symptom associated with a hip flexor tear or strain. The pain and other symptoms can range from mild to so intense that it impacts your mobility.
Other symptoms of a hip flexor tear or strain include:
- Pain when lifting the leg to the chest or stretching the hip muscles.
- Swelling, bruising or tenderness in the hip or thigh area.
- Muscles spasms in the thigh or hip that occur when walking or running.
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How Do You Treat A Strained Hip Flexor
Most hip flexor injuries can be treated at home and don’t require prescription medications or invasive procedures. Your doctor may suggest applying ice to the affected area in 10- to 15-minute increments. They will also recommend you avoid activities that will overuse your hip flexors. Often, when returning to an activity this area can be protected with a hip flexor wrap.
Hip Flexor Muscle #: Psoas
The Psoas muscle is a powerful, deep hip flexor that connects from the lumbar vertebrae to the top of the femur. Psoas functions nearly identical to the Iliacus muscle – and both are often referred to together as the Iliopsoas. Psoas is most active during the top portion of the hip flexion range of motion, when the hip is flexed to 90 degrees .
Psoas tends to get very tight from excess sitting, and can contribute to a lot of low back and hip pain when it does . To combat this, Psoas release can be very beneficial from a physical or massage therapist, or with a self massage tool like QL Claw.
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Muscles Acting On The Hip Joint
The major muscles that produce movements of the hip joint are categorized into functional groups flexors, extensors, adductors, abductors, lateral rotators and medial rotators. A single muscle may fall under two functional groups. Multiple muscles participate in both flexion and adduction as well as abduction and internal rotation.
|Glutei minimus and medius assisted by tensor fasciae latae and most adductor muscles|
|External rotation||Gluteus maximus, obturator internus, superior and inferior gemelli, quadratus femoris, piriformis assisted by obturator externus and sartoriusMnemonic: Patched Goods Often Go On Quilts|
The main flexors of the hip joint are the iliopsoas muscle and the rectus femoris muscle. The pectineus, tensor fasciae latae and sartorius muscles assist as weak flexors. Also, the adductor longus and brevis can assist with flexion of the hip joint in addition to its adductor function.
The primary extensor of the hip joint is the gluteus maximus muscle, assisted by the hamstring muscles and the adductor magnus muscle.
The primary abductors of the hip joint are the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus muscles. The tensor fasciae latae, piriformis and sartorius muscles also assist in hip abduction. The hip abductors play an active role in stabilizing the pelvis during specific phases of the gait cycle.
Symptoms Of Hip Flexor Pain
The symptoms of hip flexor pain can vary from patient to patient. Several different things may indicate that youve injured your hip flexor. These include:
Aching at the site of the muscle: This can be a constant aching pain or general discomfort in the groin or hip area. This does not need to happen when someone is in motion. It can kick in even when sitting.
Tenderness, swelling, or bruising: If you notice any of this in the upper leg or groin when you press on it, it could be due to hip flexor pain.
: Often people with hip flexor pain notice a decreased range of motion when kicking, running, or bending.
Cramping or Muscle Spasms: Look for these feelings in the hip or thigh area that are affecting movement. These may be signs of an injured hip flexor.
Weak feeling in the groin: If you experience this, you may have difficulty walking or kicking your legs.
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Intermediate Hip Flexor Muscle Anatomy
Once youve memorized the 11 hip flexor muscles, see if you can learn the bones that each muscle attaches to. Making flashcards is an easy way to practice.
POP QUIZ: there are 10 of the 11 hip flexor muscles illustrated here. Which is missing? Answer at end of article.
All of the hip flexor muscles attach from the pelvis or spine to the femur or tibia, which is how they influence hip flexion. Bypass the tricky bony landmark terms for now and familiarize yourself with just the two bones each muscle attaches to.
The bolded words in the descriptions below are there just for you intermediate anatomy student! Knowing which bones each muscle attaches to is helpful for creating basic hip flexor exercises and stretches. More to come on that in a future article
Hip Adduction And Abduction Exercises
Exercising both the adductor and abductor muscles is best done through squats. The Cossack squat requires you to place both feet wide apart and lunge using one leg at a time to the left and then to the right. Make sure you dont lunge too far as the muscles of the groin could tear. The lunging knee should be at an angle of around 45° from the midline, while the opposite leg remains extended. Between ten to twenty repetitions is enough to get this double set of muscles warmed up.
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Hip Flexor Tear Or Strain Diagnosis
Your doctor will be able to perform a physical examination to determine your diagnosis. Your doctor may also order an X-ray or MRI to rule out other possible conditions.
Your doctor will also look back at your medical history to determine when symptoms began and potential activities that might have caused the tears or strain.
How To Lessen Tight Hip Flexors
In general, stretches designed to lengthen muscles and lessen tension help strengthen the hip flexors and prevent injuries long term. Engaging the hips with counteracting movement, including cycling and swimming can also help strengthen this area.
Depending on the source, you can reduce your risk of injury by:
- Warming up and stretching your muscles before and after a workout
- Taking breaks during the work day to stand up and walk around
- Stretching and massaging your muscles with a foam roller to improve blood flow
- Applying heat to the muscles to warm up the area and increase blood circulation
If you regularly experience hip pain or tightness, work with our physical therapists to effectively strengthen and stretch the area.
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What Are Hip Flexors
A hip flexor is a muscle located at the front of the thigh that helps extend the leg. It can become tight or strained if you dont stretch regularly. Stretching exercises are recommended to prevent injury and improve flexibility.
The primary hip flexors are called the psoas major and the iliacus muscle. They are muscles located at the front of the hip joint. These muscles help us bend our knees, stand upright, walk, run, jump, squat, etc. If these muscles become weak or injured, they can cause pain and discomfort during everyday activities.
Hip Flexor Tear Or Strain Treatment
Many patients can treat their hip flexor tear or strain with home remedies.
Conservative treatments for hip flexor tears or strains include:
- Hot shower or bath
- Gentle exercises to reduce hip flexor muscle tension
When conservative treatments are not effectively relieving your symptoms, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. During physical therapy, you will work on strengthening the hip flexor muscles.
In rare cases, surgery is necessary to repair the torn hip flexor.
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Hip Flexor Muscle #: Sartorius
The final hip flexor muscle is the Sartorius. Sartorius is the longest muscle on the body and the innermost hip flexor muscle . Sartorius connects from the hip bone, across the thigh, all the way to the inner knee . Like with Rectus Femoris, great effort from Sartorius is required during a soccer kick – particularly when kicking across the body.
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