A pulled hip flexor can be a painful and potentially debilitating injury for some. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may be limited to certain types of stretching exercises. While lunges and other gentle stretches are generally safe for mild cases, patients with severe hip flexor strain may need to wait until the ligaments are fully healed before exercising. For best results, talk to your doctor or sports injury professional before engaging in any stretching exercises.
Defining the Severity
Pulled hip flexor injuries come in three different grades, according to the Roland Jeffery Physiotherapy Sports Injury Clinic. Grade One injuries are relatively mild and consist of a stretch or micro-tear in the muscles surrounding the hips. Injuries labeled Grade Two and Grade Three can indicate partial tears or ruptures in the muscle, respectively. Because the hip flexor is made up of two primary muscles – the psoas and iliacus – a pulled hip flexor injury can occur in either of these muscles. For most cases, patients are advised to immediately rest, ice and elevate their hip muscles, followed by gentle stretching exercises.
The lunge is a body-resistance exercise traditionally used to develop the thigh and hamstring muscles. Additionally, the lunge offers a significant stretch for the hip flexors that may offer pain relief. Start your lunge by stepping forward from a standing position until your knee reaches a 90-degree angle. Bend forward until your rear knee is parallel to the ground, while making sure your front knee remains directly above your ankle. If this exercise is too difficult, you can rest your rear leg on the ground and still retain the benefits of stretching out your hip flexors. Hold the posture for 30 to 90 seconds as needed before repeating on the opposite leg.
The wall squat is a supported stretch that can alleviate pain by helping you restore tissue mobility, according to the SportsMD website. Start by standing with your back against a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees until your legs form a 90-degree angle between your calves and thighs. Cross your arms and hold the position 30 to 90 seconds, or as long as needed. For a deeper stretch, spread your legs even wider as you squat, while keeping your knees positioned firmly above your ankles.
Full Boat Pose
"Yoga Journal" recommends Navasana, or Boat pose, a full-body pose, for strengthening the muscles of your hip flexors. Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Press your hands into the floor as you slowly lean back and lift your feet off the floor. Continue leaning back as you lift your legs, forming a V-shape between your upper and lower torsos. Finally, straighten your arms in front of you so that they are parallel with your thighs. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds as needed before lowering back to the floor.