The Hip Flexor is attached to the front of each of the lumbar vertebrae.It traverses through the pelvis and exits at the groin attaching to the upper thigh bone or Femur. Tightness in this muscle can cause inflammation at its attachment point creating pain in the groin. Because it traverses the hip joint, any increased tightness in the muscle creates increased compression within the joint. The leg may still move freely but the increased compression will increase wear on the joint. This can cause arthritis in the hip joint. It can also present as groin pain.
The main muscles in this lateral region that cause grief are called Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus. They are the smaller cousins of the bigger buttock muscle Gluteus Maximus which is looser by nature. These muscles are often tight and the pain pattern is typically quite defined to the lateral hip area. You can really notice it when you press in just above your hip bone and when lying on your side in bed and the mattress puts pressure on it.
To understand fully how your Hips and Pelvis functions, take a few minutes to watch the Hips and Pelvis Introduction video with 3D animation in the or download it with the immediate hip relief technique as a reference for future problems.
Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus is part of a continuum that goes down the outside of the leg and is called the Iliotibial Band or ITB. It is more of a ligamentous strap which is often painful as a result of tension in the muscles above it and will distribute pain down the outside of the leg into the knee. The stretches for the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus also work really well on the ITB.
A little further around the back of the pelvis we have a muscle called the Piriformis or ‘the double devil’ because not only can it present as considerable muscle pain of its own, but it can also trap the sciatic nerve. When this muscle really throws a spasm it is very painful to turn over in bed and getting in and out of low cars can be very difficult.
This muscle goes from the hip bone to the front of the sacrum deep under the buttock muscle and traverses the sacroiliac joint where the sacrum joins the pelvis. When this muscle is tight it jams up the sacroiliac joint and you get a pain pattern from your sacrum, across to your hip and down the outside of your leg. If it is really tight, then due to its proximity to the sciatic nerve, it can cause sciatic type pain which goes down the back of the thigh, typically only to the knee but possibly into the calf. It’s very noticeable when you press your fingers into your buttocks and it is very sore.
Activities like carrying a child on the same hip all the time will increase the likelihood of muscle strain. Tennis and squash can aggravate these muscles as there is a lot of sideways shuffle and also in golf where there is a tendency to come over the leading leg. The right stretches are excellent for releasing the tension in these muscles.
Take note and recognise what activities might be creating and perpetuating your particular situation and alter how you do things. Get your body to work with you and not against you.