I have begun exercising again recently, which to me means running and walking intervals during my lunch break, roughly 25 minutes. This week has been busy, so I wasn’t able to get a run in. Therefore, I worked out at home by going for a walk with my dog one night and doing some “mat work” the other. The mat work consisted of 100 crunches, leg raises, squats, push-ups, leg kicks and a little bit of dancing.
So, why am telling you all of this? Simple. I hurt myself, naturally, and I want to share my experience with you all in case you ever feel my symptoms and are trying to figure out what’s going on.
I am terrible at stretching, both before and after working out. I know how bad this is and that I am constantly risking injury, but it’s part laziness and part lack of time. Either way, there is no excuse and I have truly learned my lesson this time!
The pain started slowly; it was numb and I first thought it was just the typical pain that comes with being a beast (aka working out). This morning, getting out of bed was torture! Going from lying down to sitting was okay, but then going from sitting to standing felt terrible! However, I somehow made it all day, in sneaker wedges no less, by just dealing with the pain. Anytime I moved my legs, I had pain. Anytime I would stand up or sit down, I had extreme pain! The worst was getting into my SUV. I would somehow get into my seat with one leg, and then lift my other leg in with help from my hands. It was tough work, but I did make it.
It wasn’t until I made it home, got into bed and began stretching my hips and legs that I began to be concerned. See, I thought my lack of flexibility and my laziness that caused me not to stretch before and after working out were just causing my me to be tight. I figured that a little stretching now would do the trick and with a few cracks in my bones, I thought I would be just fine. However, I started to notice a pattern. When I was lying on my back, I was fine. When I was lying on either side with my legs bent slightly, I was fine. When I was lying on my stomach with both legs bent slightly, I was fine. The concerning part was that when I would lie down on my stomach (which is how I usually sleep, by the way) with my legs stretched out, I would have horrible pain in my pelvic area. That’s when I decided to lie on my back and massage the spots below my hipbones. This little idea helped me realize that there was subtle swelling in both sides. I checked in the mirror, and sure enough, I could see the swelling in the left side, which is where most of the pain was.
After some research, I found out that I had strained my hip flexors. I had never even heard about hip flexors, so I was naturally curious and a little worried. It turns out that strained hip flexors are common in athletes, especially soccer and football players, and runners. It can also be caused by lack of flexibility, improper exercise or use of equipment, excessive strain, or even trauma to the area. Mine really could have been the flexibility, stretching and excessive strain. I tend to push myself too hard whenever I work out, and almost every single time I have begun any type of exercise, I have had some sort of health or physical issue to go along with it. None was this bad, though.
To put it in Layman’s terms, and considering I properly understand what I have researched, flexors in general are the muscles that help your joints move. In the hips, there are three main muscles that make up the flexors: Rectos Femoris, Psoas Major and Illiacus. Don’t get intimidated by the big words like I did. The Rectos Femoris has to do with the Quadriceps, so we’re not going to talk about that now since it’s not related to my injury. However, I will attach a link for your interest, knowledge and an injury of yours that may focus more on that muscle. Also, from the reading I’ve done so far, it seems like these injuries are quite similar to one another and are mostly treated the same way.
For now, though, let’s focus on the second two muscles, which together make up the Iliopsoas. These muscles are what are used in exercises such as sit-ups and leg raises, amongst others. Here’s where they are located on the body:
For my specific case, we will talk further about the Illiacus muscle. There are four stages of severity when it comes to the injury of this muscle. Mine is, by my judgment, stage 2.
- affected walk, including potential for a slight limp
- twinges of pain during activity
- visible swelling and pressure will increase pain
- pain when contracting the muscle, especially against resistance”
In this stage of injury, they suggest the RICE treatment. Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevation. Rest is important for all injuries and illnesses, so this comes as no surprise. It is suggested to ice the area for 20 minutes, 2-3 times a day for 3-5 days. I haven’t quite figured out the compression process based on the location of injury, but I’m least worried about this step when it comes to recovery. Lastly, elevation not only stops the use of the flexors, but also reduces “the amount of fluid that can accumulate in the area.”
Once this period is complete and the swelling and pain have reduced, it is suggested that you begin strengthening the muscles with light exercise routines. It is important to keep the muscles strong so that you do not injure them more often and more easily in the future. Plus, if those muscles weaken, they can then cause weakness in the surrounding muscles, as well.
In short, this injury can be excruciatingly painful, but it is recommended that you take Ibuprofen or Aspirin for pain relief as well as to help with the inflammation. This could help some people, but the Ibuprofen I took a couple of hours ago has yet to kick in, so I’m not sure I’ll be continuing with it. Still, it is bearable. When in certain positions, I don’t feel it at all. Even now, as I am sitting at my computer desk with one knee bent with my foot on my chair and the other resting on the bottom of my computer desk, I feel no pain at all. However, I know that if I try to move my legs, especially if I try to raise either of them, I will feel that horrible pain once more. Therefore, my next movements are simple; stand up, give myself a moment to get used to the pain, change into my comfy PJs, grab a couple of mini ice packs, wrap them in paper towels and place them into ziplock bags, lie in bed on my back with my legs extended and elevated, ice the painful areas for 20 minutes, and then fall asleep.
If any of you are dealing with this pain, I hope this guide is helpful and that it has made it easier for you to understand the function of the flexor muscles, even just a little bit. Hang in there, and get back out there once you’re completely healed! Let’s not give up easily, y’all!
Links I used:
Links for you:
I am also attaching a link to 12 stretches that you can do after full recovery. Remember, listen to your body, take it slow, give it time, and don’t push too hard or else you may end up injuring yourself again, and possibly even worse.
Have any information about this blog post? Any advice or additional links you’d like to share? Was I completely wrong about anything I stated above? Did I accidentally not cite my sites or not cite correctly? Comment below and let’s converse, learn, and teach! Love you all!
✌Peace. 🎶Music. 💛Love. 💋Glam.