Hip flexor strains are a difficult muscle to rehab. A lot of the short term care guides for them suck. This will be the best early care guide to manage a hip flexor strain in the first few days after the injury.
What Are The Best Exercises For A Strained Hip Flexor?
Do not use RICE, POLICE, PRICE or any of those useless abbreviations (LINK). Comparatively, when you need to treat a hip flexor strain, you need to strengthen it. To treat and rehab a hip flexor strain, you need to focus on the main function of the hip flexor, hip flexion (moving the leg towards the trunk). This muscle is almost always strained when trying open up and sprint, usually from a sudden change in direction. There are a multitude of muscles that flex the hip (source). As they are all treated the same, there is no reason to waste time trying to assess which one it is.
- Hip Thrusts
- Hip flexion
Isometrics For A Hip Flexor Strain
Isometrics are the single best rehab early on in the rehab phase. They strengthen the muscle without lengthening or shortening of the muscle. This allows the exercise to be very tolerable early on as well as having 0 risk of damaging the muscle.
- Place a weight on top of your knee
- Try and bring your knee into your chest against the weight
- Hold the position for 10 seconds
- Complete 10 reps
- Perform this twice a day, separated by 6 hours
Hip Thrusts For A Strained Hip Flexor
This is NOT a strengthening exercise at this point of the injury management. This is going to be moving the muscle through as much pain free ROM as there is.
- Squeeze your glutes to extend your hips off the floor
- Hold this position for 1 second
- Release and go back to the floor
- Perform this again and find that painful range again
- This will prepare you to be a power bottom
- As you perform more and more reps, that painful sticking point will get higher and higher and full ROM is established
- Perform 50 reps per session, twice a day
- Repeat for as long as needed to restore full ROM
Hip Flexion For A Hip Flexor Strain
Do not progress to this phase until you have full ROM. Strengthening a muscle in a limited motion will result in causing more dysfunction and increasing injury risk. Below are three options pending what equipment you have access to.
- Regardless of option, complete 3 sets of 12 reps
- Increase reps before adding weight
- ie progress from 12-15-20 reps, then add weight when 20 is achievable
- These are achievable with TheraBand (can substitute with an ankle weight) or a traditional gym machine
These exercises will take you from an acute hip flexor strain to being able to have normal ROM and moderate returns in strength. You are now ready for a traditional strength program to return to normal function.