What Is a Hip Flexor Injury?

By Darin McGilvra

Golfers on a green
The hip flexors are a group of three muscles that work together to move the hip. A hip flexor injury occurs when one or more of these muscles are strained or pulled. This is usually associated with athletes who participate in football, soccer, or track and field. This is not a common injury for a golfer, but it can happen on occasion.

Causes of Hip Flexor Injury

The most common cause for a hip flexor injury is acute trauma. On the golf course, this can happen when swinging a golf club and hitting the ground, a tree or a rock and having the club suddenly stop. This injury can also happen when attempting to compensate for Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, weak abdominal muscles, or weak calf muscles, especially when walking long distances on a golf course.

Symptoms

The main symptom is pain at the front of the hip that will increase when moving the hip. There also may be apparent swelling depending on the severity.

Diagnosis

To check for a hip flexor injury, bring your knee on your injured leg up toward your chest while standing, then have someone push down on the leg while you resist. If this results in pain in the front of your hip, then a hip flexor injury is confirmed.

Treatment

Treatment usually involves rest and icing down the area. Careful stretching of the muscles for 30 seconds at a time can also help speed healing. In severe cases that involve the muscles being torn, a doctor may choose to repair it with a surgical procedure.

Prevention

Warming up and stretching the hip muscles before each round of golf will reduce the chances for a hip flexor injury. Also, making sure you are fully recovered from Achilles' tendonitis or plantar fasciitis also will help avoid a hip flexor injury, as well as strengthen abdominal muscles and calf muscles with exercise.

Exercises After Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement can be a new lease on life, especially for an avid golfer. But after hip replacement, it's important to do the right kind of exercise to return you to the links in good shape. It's easy if you follow some straight-forward advice and are consistent in your physical therapy sessions. Before you know it, you'll be back on the fairway like old times.

Physical Therapy

Most hip replacement surgeries are followed by physical therapy sessions. If it's not routinely offered, you should ask for physical therapy to speed your recovery and strengthen your body after surgery. Physical therapists and physicians are excellent guides.

Beginning Exercises

Start slowly. The chance of additional injury or hampered recovery time is increased right after surgery. Start with simple range-of-motion exercises and build up to more intensity.

Ankle exercises can be performed in bed by pointing your toes toward the foot of the bed, then toward your knees, then rotating around a full revolution. Buttocks contractions strengthen the posterior muscles such as the gluteus maximus. The exercise should be performed slowly, holding the contraction for a few seconds before releasing.

Moderate Exercises

Stand up for exercises a few days after surgery. With your hands on the back of a chair, you can perform a series of slow, careful exercises that will return strength to your legs and hips.

Raise your leg up toward your hip slowly. Do not try to make your knee parallel to your hip--raise it until you meet resistance. Hold for three to five seconds and slowly return to resting. Repeat with the opposite leg three to five repetitions, several times a day.

Still holding onto the back of the chair, move your leg out to t he side of your body until your muscles begin to protest. Hold for three to five seconds and return to resting. Repeat with the opposite leg three to five repetitions, several times a day.

Advanced Exercises

Perform advanced exercises several weeks after surgery. These are similar to moderate exercises but also include weights and resistance training to build up muscles.

Place a resistance band around the lower leg of a chair and the other end on the foot opposite the chair. Holding onto the chair back with the closest hand, extend your leg out in a straight line from the chair. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.

Walking, with frame, cane, and finally fully weight-bearing, will also improve strength and stability. Your physician or physical therapist will guide you.

About the Author

Darin McGilvra is a writer in Southern California. He has been a writer since 1997. He worked as a sports writer and copy editor for newspapers for more than 12 years before becoming a freelance writer. His articles have appeared recently in "The Californian" newspaper in Temecula, Calif. McGilvra holds a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics education from Northwest Nazarene College.