Am I the only one out there that is suffering from hip flexor pain after running??? I have a feeling I’m not.  Are you running long distances and experiencing some pain in your hip? Tight? Muscle strain? I’m going to give you some useful tips on preventing, controlling  and treating hip flexor pain. Seeing that I have Scoliosis, it is not just a “back problem”; it also has to do with my hips. Since my back curves like an S, it lifts up my left hip considerable higher. That causes constant hip flexor pain for me.

It causes sharp, tight pain, in the groin area. Tight hip flexors are a major cause of many posture problems. It is mainly caused by repetitive use. When the hip flexors are extremely tight, they cause exaggerated pelvic anterior tilt (where the person sticks their butt out causing the lower back to arch). Sometimes tight hip flexors can begin to do the ab’s work and make it hard to benefit from some abdominal exercises.

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One good thing is this injury should not curb your running for too much time, so long as you are careful in taking enough rest from running, and stretching your muscles to heal the injury properly. Here are a few tips to help you overcome this injury:

STRETCHING dynamically BEFORE a  run, and statically AFTER a run is very helpful and beneficial.

FOAM ROLLING!-  Lie on your side and rest your hip on the foam roller. Holding your body weight on your elbow, roll your body up and down over the foam roller for about one minute on each side. As I said before, if you find your point of pain, stay in that area a little longer to release the tension. There is another foam rolling stretch you can do for the hip flexor, which is the one I’m more comfortable doing and seems to be more effective.

Place a foam roll on the floor and lie down on it in a prone position, placing the roll directly under your upper thighs. Place your hands on the ground in front of you for balance, making sure your back is parallel to the ground and your toes are touching the floor. Roll forwards and backwards on the foam roll, maintaining a constant pressure on your hip flexors and thigh muscles. As you roll, you can shift your weight onto one leg by lifting your other leg off the ground. Rolling while balancing on one leg will force more pressure onto the hip flexor of that leg, resulting in a deeper, more thorough stretch.

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FIRE HYDRANT- Begin on “all 4’s”. Make sure your arms are locked out, your back is flat and your head is facing the ground. Keeping your back flat and your knee bent at 90 degrees slowly lift your left leg up and out to the side until it is level with your back. Repeat 5-10x on each side. Imagine a dog trying to pee on a fire hydrant. 😉

HIP FLEXOR STRETCH-  Place a towel on the ground or a mat, for your knee. Bend your right knee, lowering it directly onto the towel/mat. Extend your left leg out in front of your body, bending at the knee while keeping your hands on your hips for balance. Shift your body weight onto your front leg, holding for 10 seconds before relaxing. Perform the same motion with your right leg out in front of your body and your left knee on the floor:

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DROP LUNGES While standing with your feet together, place your hands in front of your chest and make fists. In a steady motion, step your left foot back at an angle behind your body to your right, place your toes down and lower yourself into a lunge. Feel the stretch in your left hip flexor when you do this. After holding this position for a second, step back so your feet are together and repeat to the other side. Steadily alternate back and forth.

HIP ABDUCTION Lie face up on the floor with your left knee bent and foot flat while keeping your right leg straight. Gently lower your left knee away for your body until your feel a stretch in the front of your hip. Hold 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three to four times.

BRIDGE  Lie on your back with your hands by your sides. Keep your knees bent and feet flat on the floor with your feet under your knees. Tighten your abdominal and buttocks muscles, and raise your hips up to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Squeeze your core, and try to pull your belly button back toward your spine. Maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your knees and hold for 20 to 30 seconds:

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SIDE LYING STRETCH  Lie on your right side with your body straight and your hips and shoulders squared. Rest your head on your right arm. Bend your left leg and grab your ankle with your left hand. Extend your hip to the rear while attempting to push your foot away from your butt. Hold this position for the desired duration while attempting to increase the depth of the stretch as your muscles relax. Change legs and then repeat.

HUG STRETCH Lie face up on the floor while bending your left knee and pulling it into your chest. Extend your right leg straight out in front of you so that you feel the stretch in the front of your hip. Hold the stretch for about 20 seconds and switch legs. Eventually, you might be able to rest your right leg completely flat on the floor.

LEG SWING Swinging one leg at a time from side to side alternately stretches the hip abductors and abductors that cross the outside and inside of the joint, respectively. Face a wall and place both hands against it for balance, then lift either leg, kick it out to the side, then across the front of your opposite leg repeatedly. Continue for at least 10 seconds, then repeat with your other leg. There are several variations of this leg swings, but this one is the one that works best for me. I can feel my hips opening up and relaxing tension;I always do this stretch right before I start my run:

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This is a great dynamic stretch. Think of movement when you hear the word “dynamic.” Different from static stretches that are held for a series of seconds, dynamic stretches are performed in motion. The best time to do these are right before running. By dynamically stretching your muscles, you will prepare them for the movement patterns they are about to undergo. By loosening your hip flexors, you will reduce your chances of injury during your run.

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Here are a few stretches to strengthen your hip flexor:

KNEE CRUNCHES-  Knee crunches work your hip flexors with the aid of an exercise ball. After placing your hands (shoulder-width apart) on the floor, position your shins on top of the ball and lift your hips to get your back straight. Steadily tuck your knees into your chest as you roll the ball on the floor. Extend your legs back out and repeat.

LEG LIFTSLeg lifts work your hip flexors and lower abs from a position on your back. Lie on the floor, place your hands at your sides and lift your legs up until they form a 90-degree angle to your body. Slowly lower them back down, stopping just short of the floor. Repeat. If you feel stress on your lower back, place your hands under your tailbone. For a more vigorous exercise, wear ankle weights. This one is one of my favorites! It also helps out your core.

DECLINE SIT-UPS  Hook your lower legs under the supports on a decline bench and lie face-up with your hands on the sides of your head. Keeping your back as straight as possible, lift your torso off the bench and come to an upright position. Slowly lower yourself back down and repeat. To increase the resistance with this exercise, hold a weight plate or medicine ball against your chest.

Using KT Tape can help relax and support the muscles that make up the hip flexor group so that the healing process can begin. Using KT Tape will help to increase circulation as well as send positive signals to the muscles affected. You know me, I’m a BIG believer in KT Tape!!! Especially this application, I suffer from hip flexor pain (higher hip on left) so I do these stretches regularly, but if it too intense I tape myself up and BOOM! pain is gone!! Here is the application for hip flexor pain, it’s very easy:

KT Tape application for hip flexor
KT Tape application for hip flexor

Aside from strengthening, hip flexor muscles also benefit from regular stretching. Sitting for long periods of time or with improper posture, it can cause the pelvis to tilt forward. As the pelvis tilts, the hip flexors become shortened and if left “unstretched”; they can affect the position and movement of the lower back. Performing routine stretching throughout the work day can help to ease lower back pain.  =)

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