Your hip flexors are an important part of what makes your body move around but most people have no idea what they are or what they do. Here you’ll find answers to those questions and recommendations on how to keep your hip flexors strong.
What is a hip flexor?
Your hip flexor is not one specific muscle or tendon in your hip area, but rather a collection of muscles and tendons both above and below your hip. The muscles that make up the hip flexor are the iliacus and psoas major muscles, also known as your iliopsoas (which are part of your abdominal stabilizers and run to the bottom of your pelvis), and the rectus femoris, which is part of your quadriceps (in your thigh). Together all of these muscles make up the hip flexors.
What are the hip flexors used for?
The purpose of the hip flexors is to bring the knee to the chest. Think of doing a sit up. In this instance you are keeping the knees locked and bringing the chest up to meet the knee. Whether you are bringing your knee up or your chest down, you are using the hip flexors to do it. This is also the muscle group utilized when you bend forward at the waist.
Muscle strain is the most common injury of the hip flexors. This is caused from over use and/or lack of proper stretching before and after exercise. Straining the hip flexor is commonly seen in athletes and members of the military due to sit up intensive workouts.
How to Avoid Injury
Stretching and strengthening the muscles that make up the hip flexors are the best ways to avoid injury. When the muscles are tight they are more susceptible to injury which is why stretching is key. Physical therapy may be recommended to assist in safely strengthening the hip flexors after an injury. Common exercises used to strengthen the hip flexors include reverse planes and reverse planks, leg lifts, V-sits, bridges, and hanging knee lifts.
Hampton Roads Orthopaedics, Spine & Sports Medicine specialists work together to provide a treatment plan unique to the patient. If you’ve got questions about or need guidance with your hip issues, contact us for an appointment!