Hip flexors or Iliopsoas - are two big muscles located deep behind the lower abdomen. The top of the muscle is attached to the lumbar spine and the lower part of the muscle is attached on the inside of the hip all the way into the groin/top of the femur (thigh bone). They are large muscles and very strong.
Their major function is flexion of the hips and supporting the trunk when we are standing upright. When we are sitting down the hip flexors are in a shortened position, so even though you feel like you are relaxing the hip flexors are tight.
Often acute onset of lower back pain involves the iliopsoas muscle. Onset can occur when the hip flexors are already tight and unbalanced. ‘All I did was putting on my socks’ or ‘picking up an item from the floor’. These simple movements involve bending and twisting and this may bring on muscle spasm of the hip flexors. Other factors are can include constant bad posture; imbalance between muscles or change in daily routine.
Symptoms of acute lower back pain involving the hip flexors are feeling a tight band across the lower back, referred pain into legs and feet, and sore gluteals or buttock muscles.
Prevention is better than injury, but with our busy life style, this is not always an option. We should all have a good stretching routine involving all our major muscle groups – perhaps by joining a yoga/pilates/tai chi class or something similar.
Your muscles need maintenance when you work hard, so regular massage or physiotherapy for assessment, treatment and correct exercises for iliopsoas and other muscles will help prevent injures.