When you have an injured hip flexor or are recovering from an injury to the area, certain leg exercises can aggravate the problem. To avoid causing pain or further damage, opt for moves that minimize the motion of your hips and allow them to rest by isolating the quads, hamstrings and calves. Performing leg exercises that don’t hurt your hip flexors can help you maintain your fitness while you recover.
Leg extensions allow you to work your quads without stressing your hips. Performed on a leg extension machine at your gym or fitness center, extensions allow you to isolate the muscles of your upper thighs while seated in a padded, supported position. Your upper body remains motionless as you extend your legs upward against a selected level of resistance. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps at a moderately challenging weight.
Using a hamstring curl machine allows you to work the back of your legs without putting weight on your hips. Lying face-down on the padded machine, you can curl your legs up against the resistance to work your hamstrings and glutes. Your hips remain virtually inactive, allowing them to remain at rest during the exercise. Perform three sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Calf raises help you build the muscles of your lower legs without using your hips. As a versatile exercise, calf raises can be performed from a standing or seated position and done with free weights or machines. You can use standing calf raise machines and seated, plate-loaded machines at the gym, or use dumbbells at home to replicate the motion. Your hips remain stationary during the movement and are not put under excessive stress. Perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps.
Recovery and Tips
When you have a hip flexor injury, rest and rehabilitation are keys to recovery. Reduce the pain and inflammation in the area and avoid activities that aggravate the injury, including leg exercises such as squats, lunges and deadlifts. Work with a physician or physical therapist on a treatment plan and begin to restore your range of motion through stretching. With the approval and guidance of your care provider, strengthen the area by performing hip-specific exercises such as resistance band leg lifts and lateral shuffles. Return to your normal activity level only when cleared by your doctor.
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