How to relieve and treat hip flexor pain, according to physical therapists

Older man talking to doctor or physical therapist about hip pain
While hip flexor pain is most common in athletes, it can occur in other people, particularly those with tight muscles and tendons. PeopleImages/Getty Images
  • Hip flexor pain is most likely caused by a strain in the hip muscles or tendons.
  • Symptoms of a hip flexor injury include soreness, aches, or a sharp pain in the front of the hip.
  • To treat hip flexor pain, rest for two days, ice the area, and take over-the-counter pain meds.
  • Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.

Whenever you walk, bend over, or lift something you’re activating your hip flexors. Incidentally, when you have hip flexor pain it can make even the most mundane of daily tasks an uncomfortable experience.

Hip flexor pain is common among certain types of athletes, like sprinters and cyclists, though anyone can experience a strain. The good news is it can be easily treated.


Hip flexor pain is typically felt as soreness or ache in the front of the hip or the groin, says James Suchy, MD, a sports medicine specialist with the Hoag Orthopedic Institute. However, pain can also be sharp depending on the type of injury.

“There can also be a snapping or popping sensation if there is accompanying tightness, ” Suchy says.

Other symptoms of a hip flexor injury include:

  • Pain when lifting the knee to the chest
  • Pain or weakness when walking or climbing stairs
  • Swelling or bruising in the front of the hip or groin

In milder cases, you may only feel this pain with repetitive activity, like walking. However, it’s important to rest even with these mild strains since the pain will become progressively worse if it does not heal, Suchy says.


Hip flexor pain is frequent in athletes because explosive movements, like sprinting, can stretch or tear muscles or tendons supporting the hip, such as the iliopsoas and rectus femoris, Suchy says.

Annotated body explainer of hip flexor muscles

In most cases, hip flexor pain is due to two different types of injuries:

  • An acute strain, which typically causes sharp pain and occurs when the hip flexor tendons or muscles are stretched or torn.
  • Hip flexor tendonitis, which is inflammation of the hip flexor tendons that causes soreness and achy pain. It is typically caused by repetitive stress or overuse, like running or cycling without rest days.

According to Sridhar Yalamanchili, MSPT, a physical therapist with the Atlantic Spine Center, those most at risk of hip flexor injuries include:

The risk of hip flexor injury increases among the above athletes if they do not add strength and conditioning workouts to their training.


Treatment for both a hip flexor strain and tendonitis are similar and typically involve:

  • Rest from any aggravating activity for two days following the injury
  • Icing the area for 15 minutes every few hours
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication, like ibuprofen
  • Rehabilitation exercises focusing on stretching and strengthening

After resting for a few days, you can engage in most daily activities as long as they do not exacerbate the hip flexors.

For example, walking can aid recovery as long you’re not limping or experiencing major pain. You can also gently stretch and strengthen the area, Suchy says.

However, you should avoid massage. The pressure on the strained muscle or tendon can be aggravating especially within the first few days of the injury, Suchy says.

Recovery can take up to six weeks or longer depending on the severity of the injury, Yalamanchili says. Once you feel that you can move without significant pain, you can start to progress toward full activity.

Insider’s takeaway

Hip flexor pain is common among athletes and is usually the result of a strain or chronic inflammation.

Resting, icing, and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication can help you manage the pain while you let the muscles heal. Gentle stretching followed by strengthening exercises is also an important part of recovery.

You can protect yourself against the risk of hip flexor injuries by warming up and stretching before physical activity.

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