Before we do any strength training, we must first see if the hip flexor is healed. To do so, we have some basic tests to assess both strength and functionality.
If you have been following the course of action addressed in part 2 of this series, then you will have minimized the prevalence of scar tissue that has formed as a result of activity with a hip flexor injury. This alone will help a lot in maintaining flexibility while the injury heals with quality muscle tissue.
In order to test your flexibility, stand on the opposite foot, and lift your knee on the injured hip flexor side as high as you can in a slow controlled fashion. If you feel any hip flexor pain then it is not healed, however, some tightness is to be expected (especially in the case of a hip flexor strain), which is why it is important to go slowly so you don’t over-extend yourself.
If you are unable to get your knee close to your chest, we must first work on hip flexor flexibility, so that when we resume strengthening you will not risk re-injury. There are several hip flexor stretches, but here is the most effective/recommended:
1) As seen in the picture, go into a lunge position -> keep your front knee at a 90 degree angle, keep your lower back straight, and gently push your hip flexor forwards while you lean back slightly. You should feel a light stretch in your hip flexor.
Hold the position for 10 seconds, go slightly further into the stretch for 10 seconds more, and go slightly further once more for 10 seconds. Alternate legs, and repeat twice more for a total of 3 sets of 90 seconds for each leg.
After a week or so of doing this every day, you should have re-developed proper flexibility and can now move on to hip flexor strengthening.
This is very similar to the flexibility test, but this time, while you are lifting your previously injured leg up, you (or a partner) should apply downwards pressure. Start soft and build-up slowly, if you can resist all levels of force without any pain, you are ready to start strengthening, which you can learn about in part 4 of this series. If you do experience pain, STOP, you need more time to heal, refer to the hip flexor recovery article of this series before you do any strengthening for your hip flexor.