Hip flexor injuries are common running injuries often attributed to overuse. The hip flexor muscles bring the thigh forward and up, a repetitive motion seen in running. Tight hips can cause postural deficits that may, in turn, affect running form and may cause running injuries. If the hip flexors are tight, the pelvis may rotate toward the front. This position may arch the lower back causing, even more, issues to arise.
However, hip flexor pain and injuries are highly preventable. Taking the necessary precautions may reduce the risk of the hip flexors becoming problematic. Targeted strengthening and stretching exercises, a proper warm up, and education on the topic may aid in keeping your running training plan on track. The following outlines 5 ways to prevent common hip flexor pain, starting today.
Completing a proper warm up and cool down pre and post run cannot be emphasized enough. The importance of warming up your muscles is vital to preventing injury and setbacks. It warms your body temperature up and increases blood flow to the muscles. Quickly jumping straight into an intense workout can cause muscle strains to occur. Dynamic stretches, such as low lunges and leg swings, are recommended movements to include in a proper warm up routine. Slowly increasing your heart rate will prep the body for the more intense work to come.
Strengthen the Hip and Leg Muscles
Strengthening exercises involving weights and bands may prime major muscles of the legs and hips for those long runs. Further, strengthening aids in supporting and stabilizing the joints. The hips and major muscles of the legs are constantly being utilized throughout a run, and thus should be the focus of any strength training program that coincides with your running plan. Stronger muscles are less likely to succumb to an injury related to overuse. Mixing up your workout to include strengthening exercises may also avoid your workout from reaching a plateau. Constantly challenging the muscles with new exercises to adapt to can further peak your interest and keep you from getting bored with the same old routine.
Strengthen the Core and Back
It is said a lot. Posture is important. A strong core ensures you maintain proper running form. A strong back in conjunction with a strong core can further provide muscle balance and stability to the body. Strengthening exercises for the core and back may prevent back pain and hip flexor pain by stabilizing the pelvic girdle and trunk. They keep your body upright and contribute to proper alignment of the body.
Do Not Push Through the Pain
If pain occurs mid-run, stop. Pushing through the pain will often not make it disappear. Your body is telling you something is wrong. Listen to it. Gradually increase your distance, pace, and time of your run. Too much, too fast can do more harm than good.
Stretch the Hip Flexors After Sitting for Long Periods of Time.
We live in a very sedentary society. Many works at a desk for long periods of time on a weekly basis. Humans were never meant to be sedentary! It is important to stretch out the body and move around every few hours. In sitting, the hip flexors, in particular, are shortened for long durations. Elongating these muscles via proper stretches may prevent issues from arising later on, especially if you run regularly. A low lunge stretch on the ground every few hours can stretch the hip flexor muscles and may prevent future injuries or pain from occurring.