10 Ways You Can Stretch Your Way To Hip Pain Relief
These days, almost everyone knows how important proper exercise for hip pain is for staying active throughout life. But how much do you know about the muscles known as hip flexors? If your answer is, “not much,” you’re not alone.
Hip flexors are situated deep inside the body’s abdominal area. And even though they are most commonly associated with activities like sprinting or kicking, if not for these critical muscles we wouldn’t even be able to sit down. They are also a very important factor in the simple act of bending at waist level.
But hip flexors do more that make it possible for us to sit and bend. They are among the strongest muscles in our body, and are integral for good core support. They also contribute to knee strength. Little wonder, then, that ignoring the hip flexors when exercising can lead to hip pain or add to chronic hip pain that is already being suffered.
The National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) commonly sees patients with chronic hip pain related to hip flexors. For these, medical intervention such as stem cell hip therapy is frequently needed. However, more often than not, hip pain and injury can be relieved through proper stretches and exercising. With that in mind let’s examine the connection between hip pain and poor flexor function, and some sound stretching and exercise techniques that can help you avoid injury and, maybe, a trip to the clinic!
The Connection Between Hip Pain And Flexor Function
Specifically, the hip flexors are a group of muscles that extend from the abdomen into the upper thighs. They are among the muscles that allow the knees to lift. They’re also essential for the proper alignment of the pelvis and thighs. This group of muscles is also collectively known as the iliopsoas (inner hip muscles). But “hip flexors” is a lot easier to say, isn’t it?
Regardless of the term you prefer, without them, you wouldn’t be able to kick, run, sprint, or so much as sit down. Understanding this helps in understanding how the health of flexors affect hip pain.
How Hip Flexors Can Become Injured
Hip flexor strains occur because one or more of the flexor muscles are over extended or tear. For athletes, hip pain due to flexor injury usually occurs from sudden movement like a sprint, a kick, or a quick change in direction. But, in day-to-day life, most hip pain related to the hip flexors occurs because we just get into a hurry.
But we aren’t just talking hip pain, here. According to Jon Hyman, MD, who was quoted in an article in Runner’s World, “Your hips anchor your pelvis, so any dysfunction in your hips has a significant domino effect and impacts your lower back, legs, knees, ankles, and feet.”
Several factors can cause flexor strain that leads to acute or chronic hip pain. These include:
- Weak muscles
- Improper warm-ups prior to a workout
- Stiff muscles
- Trauma or falls
How To Treat A Hip Flexor Injury
Chances are, the reason you’ve found this article is because you’re already experiencing hip pain due to a hip flexor injury. But you may not have realized that’s the reason. If you have any of the following symptoms, it’s very likely your hip pain is due to a strain or tear in one or more of the flexor muscles:
- A mild pain or pulling sensation in the front of the hip
- Cramping and/or sharp pain in the front of the hip
- Pain that makes it hard to walk without limping
- Severe pain, spasms, bruising and swelling along the areas of the hip flexors
Whenever in doubt, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor. But if you’ve been experiencing hip pain in the flexor region, following the steps outlined below while waiting for your appointment can help relieve it:
- Rest in a position that eases the hip pain
- Stop activities that cause pain
- Use an ice pack covered in a clean cloth to apply cold therapy to the affected region area for 20 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for a few days
- If the hip pain isn’t severe, using the exercises you’ll learn later in this article to stretch and strengthen the flexors will help
Never, however, take a chance when pain is severe or bulging occurs. Seeking out proper medical care is your best option. Today, surgery should be considered a last resort rather than the first option. Platelet rich plasma and/or stem cell hip therapy for pain or injury is regularly preferred by many doctors who specialize in sports medicine, because of the rapid healing compared to surgery and the minimally invasive nature of these therapies.
Reduce Your Risk of Hip Flexor Injury
But how do you really know if an injury to a flexor muscle is the reason for your hip pain? Generally speaking, hip flexor pain is located in the upper groin. This is the area where the thigh and the pelvis meet.
A flexor injury of any kind can usually be prevented by strengthening the muscles and increasing their flexibility. And caring for the flexor muscles can have a healthy cascading effect on the musculature of your lower body in general. When core muscles like the flexors are not kept healthy and supple, the inflexibility can lead to increased stiffness and hip pain.
What is the number one thing you can do to keep flexible? Stay active. Sitting too much shortens the muscles in the flexor group. One of the most frequent causes of hip pain is a sudden burst of activity after sitting all day.
Has this ever happened to you? You “pull something” when you reach quickly to keep a cup from falling off the counter top, or because you have to hurry through the airport to get to your flight on time. The pain catches you by surprise because “you didn’t do anything particularly strenuous.” But to flexor muscles that are shortened, weak, and stiff from lack of activity, that sudden burst of movement certainly is a strain.
This is why it is important to maintain strength and flexibility in the hip flexors. Even if you’ve been sedentary a long while, you can find ways to increase activity and prevent hip pain. The key is to begin moderately and add activity as you flexibility improves. And proper stretching is always a great place to start.
4 Reasons You’ll Be Glad You Did
- Improved Athletic Performance
Sports medicine experts say that weak hip flexor muscles are a contributing factor in slow running times. They also contribute to improper form, and can be connected to a number of lower-leg injuries. Weak, stiff flexor muscles force the body to compensate for the lack of strength and flexibility in other ways. This works for awhile. But, sooner or later, muscle imbalances and injury are sure to happen.
One of the best ways to correct the situation and avoid leg and hip pain related to weak flexor muscles is to perform strengthening exercises three or four days a week.
- Improved Resistance to Injury and Wider Range of Motion
When the flexor muscles are healthy and strong, risk of injury and hip pain is significantly reduced. This is because the muscles in this vital group are integral to the body’s core stability. Whether you’re an athlete preparing for an event or an older person who wants to stay pain-free and mobile, flexor muscles are essential for even the simplest functions of everyday life.
Overly tight muscles of the hip joint affect range of motion and can contribute significantly to hip pain. Keeping them loose and flexible can make the difference between an enjoyable walk with the family and having to stay behind, gobbling pain medication.
Happily, simple steps like massage and stretching can get you back in the game. Flexibility can be improved by massaging bands of muscle that are located on the outside of your upper thigh. The same should be done for the hip adductors, which are the muscles of the inner thigh, as well as the hamstrings, which are the large, long muscles than run down the back of your thighs.
You can use foam rollers or a small ball to massage these areas. Favorite ball sizes can be as small as a golf ball or something a little larger, like a tennis ball. Don’t be overly aggressive with the massage. Apply pressure moderately and roll the ball or roller up and down, as well as at different angles along the flexor muscles of the thighs. With areas of sensitivity, be gentle according to what the muscle will tolerate. Combining massage with the stretches outlined in the article will go a long way in helping you prevent leg injury and hip pain.
- Take Longer Walks, Stand More Often, Improve Your Balance
Have you begun to worry about walking more than several feet, even to the point where you must be careful walking to your car? It could be that your hip flexors are too weak to provide enough stabilization to help with good balance. Weak flexors can even contribute to poor posture. And all of this can lead to acute or chronic hip pain.
Weak flexor muscles add to problems with hip joints and recurrent misalignments of the lumbar area. These all have a cascading effect that can lead to difficulties in standing or walking for longer durations. Your gait may become stiff, limited, and lumbering.
But all of these can be improved simply by moving more. Increasing activity incrementally as you strengthen the hip flexors will begin a virtuous cycle of health that can result in less hip pain, more flexibility, improved range of motion, increased energy, a desire to be more active, healthy weight loss, and more.
- Improved Back Support
Your hips are designed to help move you forward. They stabilize you as you land your steps, plant your feet after a jump, and more. When hip flexors are tight, stiff or shortened due to inactivity, the likely result can be lower back and hip pain. Healthy, supple, strong flexor muscles add critical support to the back, helping to ensure you can stay active and pain-free your whole life long.
The 10 Best Exercises For Stretching And Strengthening The Flexor Muscles
Many people don’t learn how to keep the flexor muscles in good shape until after they’ve sustained an injury. But you don’t (and shouldn’t!) wait to be injured before practicing these 10 great exercises for stretching and strengthening your flexor muscles. This ounce of prevention just might keep you out of physical therapy and free of severe hip pain. But the pay-off goes beyond that. They’ll help make your everyday activities easier to do, and may even get you moving more for a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Make it a habit to use these exercises as a part of a weekly routine. If you’re someone who is particularly susceptible to hip pain, you can even do them daily to dramatically lower your risk of re-injury.
If you presently have hip pain due to injury, you’ll want to consult with a medical professional before beginning these exercises. In these circumstances, NSI always recommends a healing plan that includes medical intervention such as platelet rich plasma or stem cell hip therapy, physical rehabilitation, and nutritional counseling. Your medical professional will be able to tell you when the resting phase of healing is over, what you can do to improve during the resting phase, and when you can begin these exercises.
- Front Hip Flexor Stretch
With your left knee placed on the ground, keep your right knee at a ninety-degree angle from the ground and your right foot firmly planted. Rest both hands on the right thigh. Begin leaning your hips forward. This creates a good stretch in the front of the hip. Hold the stretch for five seconds, repeating five times. Switch the positions of your legs and do the same for the other side.
- Quad Stretch and Hip Strengthener
With your back on the floor, position yourself with knees bent and your feet flat. Position your feet so they are reasonably close to the buttocks. Gently but firmly raise your hips toward the ceiling, squeezing the buttock muscles together and keeping your abdominal muscles tight. Hold the position for three to five seconds.
This stretch is particularly good for the quadriceps, the long muscles that run along the outside of your thighs, as well as an excellent hip strengthener. Ease your back down to the floor again. Repeat the stretch ten more times.
- Seated Butterfly Stretch
Take a sitting position on the floor. Make sure your back is straightened, your shoulders comfortably down, with your abs ready to engage. Bending your knees to the sides, begin by pressing the soles of your feet together. Now pull your heels as much as you can toward you. Keep your knees relaxed, and allow the muscles of your thighs to press down toward the floor.
Don’t force your thighs downward with your hands. The thigh and core muscles should be doing the work. Breathe deeply and hold for 10-20 seconds.
- Supine Hip Flexor Stretch
With your back on the floor, lift the left knee toward you until you can reach behind the left thigh with your hands. With gentle pressure, draw the leg toward you to increase the stretch. Keep your breaths deep and relaxed.
Hold the stretch for three to five seconds, then release. Switch to the right leg and repeat. Do five repetitions per side.
- Reverse Lunge Exercise
For this exercise, if you find that using a chair for support is needed you may do so. Beginning with your right foot and standing upright with feet shoulder-width apart, take one step backward and dip down into a lunge position. When you come back up, you should push through the left heel to return to a standing position. Each lunge should immediately and fluidly follow the previous one. Do twelve reps and switch legs. Three sets of twelve repetitions are recommended for both sides.
The focus of this exercise is a strong core, so keep your upper body as upright as you can.
- Advanced Reverse Lunge with Knee Drive
This exercise builds on the basic reverse lunge. You may choose to use the basic reverse lunge to warm you up for the advanced lunge. While performing the same movements outlined in #5, push through more deeply with your heel, driving the opposite knee up until it is parallel to the floor.
Return to standing, then repeat.
- Seated Hip Flexion
Use a good, stiff chair or a bench for this exercise. Sit on the chair, being mindful to use good posture, raise the right knee toward the chest. Ensure that your thigh doesn’t roll inward or outward. Hold the position, then slowly lower the knee.
When you first begin this exercise, you may find that you can only lift a little. This is normal. As you perform this exercise over time, and your hip flexors grow stronger and more supple, you’ll find yourself lifting a little higher.
Three sets of twelve repetitions per side are recommended.
- High Knees
Stand on the left leg and raise the right knee as high as possible. Switch legs and repeat. The exercise should be done as if it was a slow march while standing in place. Do this high-knee, slow march for thirty seconds. Rest a second or two, then repeat. Three reps are recommended.
- Advanced High Knees Run
This exercise builds on the basic high knees march outlined in #8. But rather than moving in a slow in-place march, you should alternate the legs swiftly in a high-knee running in place motion.
Each rep should be done for thirty to sixty seconds. Five reps are recommended.
- Single-Leg Knee Lift
Stand on the right leg and lift your left knee so that your left thigh parallels the floor. Hold this position for ten seconds, keeping your abs engaged and tight. This exercise helps strengthen the flexor muscles that aid balance.
You’ll find that focusing on a specific spot a few feet in front of you will help keep your balance during the single knee lift. Your balance will improve the more you do this exercise. Three sets of ten repetitions are recommended.
What To Do When Hip Pain Is Ongoing And Chronic
These stretches and exercises have the potential to do a world of good when recovering from hip pain and to prevent repeat injuries. But some cases, hip pain can become chronic and require medical intervention.
For many years now, professionals in sports medicine have been turning to platelet rich plasma and/or stem cell therapies to heal athletes’ chronic hip pain. It is quickly surpassing surgery as the first option for an ever-growing list of injuries and illnesses, including chronic problems involving the hips and joints.
This is because these two therapies, classified as regenerative medicine procedures, have an established history of healing, repairing, and regenerating damaged muscle, tendon, and ligament tissues rapidly without surgical intervention.
These therapies help athletes return to the field more quickly because the procedures are far less invasive, healing time is faster, and physical rehabilitation afterward can be safely and effectively accelerated. These same basic principles of regenerative medicine apply, and are available, to the average citizen as well.
As with any medical procedure, however, it is important to ensure these therapies are performed by legitimate medical professionals trained in regenerative medicine practices. Below are recommendations from the National Stem Cell Institute on how to ensure you are working with a licensed, FDA guidelines-compliant regenerative medicine clinic.
What to Look for in a Stem Cell Medical Clinic
When searching for a qualified stem cell therapy center it’s important to remember that not all of them are created equal. Stem cells, when used properly, are your body’s most powerful means for healing that can repair everything from ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to organs including your liver, pancreas and lungs and even neurological tissue like your brain, nerves and spinal cord.
Unfortunately, the majority of so-called “regenerative medicine clinics” in the world aren’t trained in the latest, most technologically advanced procedures and will, therefore, provide poor results if any.
The good news is the National Stem Cell Institute (NSI) has established the most advanced stem cell and platelet rich plasma procedures on the planet which has drawn patients from all over the world as well as professional athletes and celebrities because they are recognized as the best in the world at stem cell therapy.
What makes NSI Stem Cell the top stem cell clinic in the world is demonstrated in 5 key areas:
1. Highly trained and experienced, board-certified doctors and team members who have performed stem cell procedures on thousands of patients with incredible results.
2. Cutting edge procedures utilizing all that regenerative medicine has to offer for many chronic degenerative conditions.
3. Leading scientific researchers who follow the advanced guidelines to maximize the healing potential of your stem cells and to maintain compliance and ethics
4. Use of only the most potent and viable resource of living, viable stem cells and harvested on the same day. No vial that you can purchase will contain living stem cells. If there is no harvest then there are no stem cells.
5. Post-operative guidance for supporting stem-cell growth including rehabilitation, diet and supplement protocols. NSI is a full-service healthcare center focused on patient outcomes. Stem cell therapy is only one tool used to help improve patients’ lives.
Patients have raved about their experience at NSI Stem Cell Clinics testifying that it was their unique cutting-edge procedures that helped them experience a breakthrough when nothing else worked.
If you want to learn more about NSI Stem Cell Clinics, you can set up a complimentary consultation today to see if you are a candidate. You can contact the National Stem Cell Institute at (877) 278-3623.