Hip Flexor Muscle Strain
This article will guide you through all aspects of a hip flexor strain and help you to understand the injury better.
First of all, what is a hip flexor strain? Simply put, it’s a tear (could be very small, or very large) in one of the hip flexor muscles, usually the psoas since it’s one of the largest and most used hip flexor muscles.
Hip Flexor Strain Causes
The first thing to look at in regards to a pulled hip flexor is how it was injured in the first place. Certain injuries can happen in a multitude of ways, but a hip flexor strain is not one of them. Imagine what happens in order for a strain to occur in a strong muscle group such as the hip flexor; there has to be a force strong enough not only to damage the muscle(s) but to cause a physical tear in the muscle, this is an enormous force required! There are rare cases where someone has a tight muscle to an extreme degree and pulls it doing something routine, but the majority of muscle strains are caused in explosive movements like sprinting or changing directions really fast, almost always while playing a sport.
Hip Flexor Strain Symptoms
A strain is one of the easiest injuries to recognize when it happens because it almost always happens while you are exercising in one way or another. A strain occurs when you overstretch beyond your muscle’s current operational range of motion. For hip flexors, in particular, this usually occurs when you pull up your leg too forcefully, often when sprinting.
So that’s the cause, what about the symptoms? You’ll typically feel that extra stretch and pain during that moment when you overstretch. Afterward, you’ll notice that it hurts whenever you activate that muscle. This means that most hip flexor strains will hurt whenever you lift your leg.
Note that the degree you lift after you’ve strained a muscle will correspond to the amount of pain felt. For example, if you’re just walking it will hurt a little bit because you’re only lifting your leg a bit. On the other hand, if you’re lifting it higher to try and run or go up stairs it will hurt substantially more.
Hip Flexor Strain Types
There are officially 3 types of hip flexor strain: first, second, and third degree. Try to think of them not as absolute terms, but as relative terms on a spectrum, with a first-degree hip flexor strain being at the very bottom, third degree at the top, and second degree in the middle of the spectrum in regards to damage done to the muscle.
How to Treat A Hip Muscle Strain
Hip Flexor Strain – First Degree
A first-degree pull is a minor tear in a muscle, but you can usually still perform all movements like normal, except you will feel some pain or discomfort. Obviously, this is the ideal level if you do pull your hip flexor as the recovery time is very short, often you may be able to play through the injury with little risk of further injury.
Hip Flexor Strain – Second Degree
A second-degree hip flexor strain is a point in which significantly more damage has been done to the hip flexor than in a first-degree hip muscle strain. This type of strain involves a significant partial tear to a muscle and can cause considerable pain and function loss. Typically along with the pain, there is minor bruising and swelling, which will be addressed later on in treatment.
Hip Flexor Strain – Third Degree
This is the absolute worst hip flexor strain you can suffer, a full muscular tear. If you have a third-degree hip flexor strain I can only hope that the first thing you did was go see a doctor, if you have not yet please do so NOW. Along with a third-degree pull is a large amount of hip flexor pain, and extremely limited functionality, usually you will not be able to walk at all. There will not only be a pain, but also major bruising and swelling, and possibly even spasms.