Hip Flexor Muscles are the primary muscles used to move the hip forward during walking or running. Illiopsoas and rectus femoris are the main muscles. They are attached to the body of lumbar vertebrae, inside of the iliac bone and insert into the lesser trochanter in the area of the upper femur and rectus femoris, and follows the attachment with the rest of the quadriceps muscles. The action of the HF muscles is flexion of your hip and has some action on the core and lower extremities for stabilization. HF plays a very important role in activities like cycling, running, skating, hiking and etc., and strain of the hip flexors can often cause pain along the location of the muscle and around the front of the hip into the groin.
Although this muscle is often tight or strained in active groups of people, it often gets neglected and can become weak even in active people and can cause same kind of pain symptoms due to weakening and inactiveness. This is often true, especially, in the case of weakness in the core muscles. If the core muscles (or muscles in the lower abdomen) are weak and are not able to stabilize the pelvis, the flexor muscles in the hips take the pressure, trying to compensate for the core’s weakness, and are overworked. Commonly, a straight leg test is used by practitioners to measure the strength of this muscle and it ranges from grade 3 to normal, which is 5 (test is performed by pressing down towards floor while client lying on the back and holding leg straight up to about 70 degrees and the practitioner will apply downward pressure and resistance which should last up to 5 seconds to indicate the grade)
Flexor pain is often caused due to the overuse of these muscles. It can also be caused due to acute trauma. Many times, while sprinting, kicking a ball, cycling, etc., there can be instances when a person feels a pull in the flexor muscles of the hip. This is said to be the origin of the pain in the hip muscle region. Due to sedentary lifestyles, the flexor muscles become tight and have poor flexibility and this contributes to the injury. If the muscles are tight, there is an increased amount of tension on the tissues. Many a time, increased tension along with an explosive movement leads to an injury.
Massage therapy can help with most of the common problems like tension and tightness in the hip flexors, and some techniques used by Massage Therapists can even stimulate the muscle and awaken them.
A Registered Massage Therapist is trained to treat this muscle and is able to reach the body of the muscle and treat them, and often with few specific treatments the problem will get better. It also has been said that by addressing pain and releasing the tension it can often reduce lower back pain. This is true if there is tension or a trigger point in the hip flexor, and the pain can refer toward the centre of the back and lower lumbar region.
If you run, hike, cycle or even work at an office you have to learn to properly stretch the hip flexor muscles. Learning some basic exercises to how to strengthen your core and hip flexor muscles can also improve the performance of the HF muscles and it can also help prevent any complications like tightness, strain, tear and instability of your core and lower extremities.