Hip flexor injuries in runners

Avoiding hip flexor and groin injuries

An injury to your hip flexors can cause sharp pain in the groin area. However, such injuries should not curb your running for too much time, as long as you are careful in taking adequate rest from running, and stretching your muscles to heal the injury. Here's the realbuzz.com guide to overcoming hip flexor injuries and getting back to your running in the quickest possible time.

The iliopsoas muscle is the strongest flexor of the hip joint (it pulls the leg through from behind in the running stride and lifts the knee up during running). The muscle originates at the lumbar region of the spine and inserts into the femur (thigh bone).

This key running muscle is thankfully rarely injured, although postural problems resulting from tight hip flexor muscles are more common.

  • Hyper-lordosis or an exaggerated lumbar curve in the spine results from tight hip flexors often combined with weak abdominal muscles and tight lower-back muscles.
  • Rupture, inflammation and bursitis are less common but can also occur, often as a result of overuse. This can be brought about in sports by repetitive kicking, too many full sit-ups, running up hills or running through deep snow.

Inflammation and bursitis

Symptoms of this include pain in the runner's groin when a knee is lifted up to the chest (particularly against resistance), and a sensation of tightness and swelling in the groin; especially if the bursa is inflamed as well (a bursa is a small sack of fluid that sits behind the muscle). You might enter a cycle of pain where the pain disappears during running training only to recur worse after exercise has stopped.

What can you do to stop this running condition?

Rest until there is no pain. Apply heat to the area and use a heat retainer.

Rupture of the iliopsoas through running

Symptoms of this include a sudden sharp pain in the groin, weakness and a deep pain when you try to flex the hip when running, especially against resistance.

What can you do to stop this running condition?

Apply R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) immediately. Rest from your running using crutches if needed. You must fully rehabilitate the injury after it has healed. It is important that you gradually stretch and strengthen the muscle to avoid it tightening up; otherwise it is likely you will tear it again. If it is a total rupture then you will need surgery.

Pain in the groin area generally is common and symptoms are often vague. It is important you are aware of other injuries that could occur such as inflammation and rupture of adductor muscles, hernia, nerve entrapment as well as the less expected things like prostatitis. If in doubt see a sports injury professional about your running injury.

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