When you sustain a hip flexor strain, the body’s natural defenses kick in and you will usually see some sort of swelling. To transition from this phase to the next phase in recovery, you should follow the P.R.I.C.E. procedure as soon as possible following the injury.
Hip Flexor Treatment Procedure (P.R.I.C.E.)
Protection – Stop all physical activity and try to immobilize the injured leg, this will prevent any further damage. Note that this step is primarily for grade 3 and bad grade 2 strains, there is no significant difference if you follow this step for grade 1 strains, however if you have the necessary equipment, you should use it to be on the safe side.
Rest – Rest may be the most frustrating step of the hip flexor treatment process, but also the most important one. An injury cannot heal unless it has time to rebuild, if you continue to train on an injured muscle you will develop a buildup of scar tissue which will most likely lead to chronic injuries. In this context, rest is about reducing the movement of the injured leg as much as possible and try to take as much stress of the injured hip flexor as you can.
Ice – Immediately after the injury, alternate icing and not icing the injured hip flexor every 20 minutes in order to reduce inflammation and pain. Continue this for 2-3 hours, after this continue icing at a less frequent rate, judge how often by how much swelling is still present; the more swelling, the more frequent you should ice. As a precaution, never apply an extremely cold object directly to your skin, wrap it in some sort of towel to prevent skin damage.
Compression – Compression goes hand in hand with icing, which has a purpose of reducing swelling from inflammation. The compression will temporarily restrict blood flow which prevents swelling from occurring. This area is hard to wrap, and takes a lot of material, so for the most part tape is not the best option. You should try to find a compress bandage that you can wrap around your torso several times and re-use for a long time.
Elevation – Try to elevate the injury as much as possible. The hip flexor is hard to elevate above everything else, but try to stay away from a sitting position where your hips are the lowest point on your body.
This protocol should be followed until all swelling is eliminated and the majority of Hip Flexor pain subsides, typically 48-72 hours with most grade 1/grade 2 pulls.
The next phase in hip flexor treatment deals with the longer rest phase and what you can do during it to prevent function loss while promoting healing. If you want to learn more about your hip flexor injury, navigate to our other articles using the menus at the top or the links on our homepage.