Hip Flexor Pain
Back pain and hip pain can be related to tight hip flexors. Here’s why:
- Young athletes get fatigued and use hip flexors rather than abdominal muscles
- Gymnasts don’t fully use their gluteus maximus muscles (butt muscles) during jumping
- Because of this, hip flexors are always engaged, become overused, and put extreme pressure on the spine
Last night we saw an 8 year old with a tight, painful hip flexor because she showed her friends her gymnastics at a party without warming up! Remember, muscles can be easily injured when not warmed up, even in 8 year-olds! For treatment, we did exactly what we listed here. She’ll be better in 3 days!
Let’s discuss what to do immediately, then get in to a more permanent fix.
At Home Care for Injured Hip Flexors in Gymnasts
KT Tape Pro is a great solution to begin the healing process. KT Tape increases the proprioception of muscles and joints, allowing the body to know where it is in space better. This allows our young athletes to move their bodies with more information, keeping them in injury free ranges of motion.
Imagine giving your athlete information so they are able to move their bodies with more control INSTANTLY. This is KT Tape Pro!
Here’s how to apply KT Tape Pro for injured hip flexor:
With all of my gymnasts, I challenge them to stretch their hip flexors for 30 days. The first 3-7 days will include soreness, but continue stretching. At day 10, you’ll notice a huge difference. Here is the stretch with instructions:
- Body in lunge position
- Shoulders up and back
- Core tight, glutes squeezed
- To isolate, tuck hips under (posterior pelvic tilt)
- At this point, tight hip flexors will begin to be stretched
- If you need more of a stretch, gently bring hips forward as if someone was pushing on your lower back.
- It should look just like the picture to the right!
Preventing Hip Flexor Pain In Gymnasts
Most hip flexors become tight because gymnasts never give them a chance to rest.
Resting hip flexors does take work. Why? Because hip flexors is an antagonist muscle to the gluteus maximus muscle.
This means when the hip flexors are contracting, the gluteus maximus muscle is relaxing, and when the gluteus maximus muscle is contracting, the hip flexors are relaxing.
So our goal is to get full contraction of our glute muscles allowing hip flexors to relax. We do this by squeezing the glutes as hard as possible during jumps and we recognize this in our athletes when they have absolutely no pike to their jumps. Here are two examples:
What Happens If My Gymnast Doesn’t Use Glutes to Jump and Land?
Here are several guarantees:
- Before puberty, they’ll experience back pain
- After puberty, the’ll experience stress reactions in their spine, and there is a great possibility they will experience stress fractures in the spine (pars fractures or spondylolysis)
- Jumping/leaping is limited due to inability to recruit gluteus maximus muscles (in other words, very small gymnastics)
Here’s an example of the proper technique for landing and jumping:
Click here to see a all of our jumping/landing progression videos on YouTube. This will not only decrease pain, it will be amazing for their performance!
Where Else Are Hip Flexors Overused?
Another great question!
Bars. Bars is a combination of rotational physics and extreme core strength. Of course, we don’t always see this happening in the gym. What we see is the overuse of hip flexors in order to achieve position.
The other aspect of bars that is seldom discussed, is using your glute muscles to bring the body into a straight line. By using your glutes to achieve this position, you’ve given your hip flexors another opportunity to relax.
The Gymnast Care Solution to Overcoming Hip Flexor Dominance
Developing Incredible Jumps and Protective Landings
- Learn to squat. All other athletic movements come from this.
- Learn the position of take off, and landing.
- Stress these positions.
Develop A Responsive, Protective Core
- Learn to initiate core without the shortening of your abs.
- Stop tucking your hips under when accessing core…it’s dangerous and it decreases your ability to perform.
- Elongate, and now try to keep tight! Now stress this position.
- Get to an unstable surface.
- Make it sport specific.
- Become a core superstar.
Here’s a video of our basic core from the Gymnast Care Book on Injuries. All of these protocols are found there:
Thanks for joining us, if you have specific questions, please send us a message or leave a reply in the comments below.