The powerful hip muscles contract and relax with every stride while running or walking. Tendinitis in the front of the hip is a common injury among runners, hurdlers, high jumpers and ballet dancers. This painful condition is named iliopsoas tendinitis, or iliopsoas syndrome, and is classified as an overuse injury. You can combat iliopsoas tendinitis by adjusting your running program, stretching your hip flexor muscles and strengthening your hip, abdominal, gluteal and lower back muscles.
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Hip Flexor Anatomy
The iliopsoas is a hip flexor muscle that raises the thigh toward the abdomen when contracted. The iliopsoas muscle attaches to the front of the thigh, the front of the hip and the vertebra in the lower back. The Ohio State University Medical Center defines tendons as, "tough cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones." In medical terms the suffix "itis" means inflammation, thus tendinitis is the inflammation of the tissue that connects the muscle to the bone.
Symptoms of iliopsoas tendinitis include pain and tenderness in the anterior hip and groin, hip weakness, hip fatigue and occasionally lower back pain. The pain is described as sore, dull, tight, stiff or achy and makes taking a full stride difficult. Symptoms become more intense with walking and running, especially when going up or down hills or stairs.
Running with Tendinitis
If symptoms of iliopsoas tendinitis begin, your first step should be to modify your running program. Dr. Stephen M. Pribut, DPM, recommends, "Relative rest, meaning less intense workouts or fewer miles." Intensity can be lessened by decreasing the number of running sessions per week, decreasing distance, reducing your hills and stairs running, not overstriding, or a combination of all of these.
Perform stretching exercises for the hip flexors to reduce muscle tension and increase joint range of motion. The simplest iliopsoas stretch to execute is in the supine position. Lie face up on a bed or training table with your head, back and uninjured leg securely on the flat surface. Exhale and slowly allow your painful hip and leg to hang off the side. Hold a comfortable stretch for 20 to 60 seconds and perform three sets for both the injured and uninjured leg.
Strengthening Hip Flexors
The body works as a synergistic unit, and all parts of the musculoskeletal system are interdependent, therefore strengthening the muscles which perform, assist, stabilize and oppose hip flexor should speed your recovery. Always train with perform with proper technique through a pain-free range of motion. If hip flexion strengthening is too difficult at the beginning, skip it and concentrate on the surrounding muscles. Strengthen your abdominals with planks, Janda situps and balance ball crunches. Train your gluteal muscles by doing hip extensions with a resistance band and work your spine by performing back extensions on a gym ball. When the hip symptoms are no longer present, you can incorporate kettlebell exercises such as crossover lunges, swings and squats.