The Hip Flexors Muscles and Injuries

man doing hip flexor stretch on beach
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The hip flexors are several muscles that bring the legs and trunk together in a flexion movement. They allow you to move your leg or knee up towards your torso and allow you to bend your torso forward at the hip. The muscles that make up the hip flexors include the psoas major, iliacus, rectus femoris, pectineus, and the sartorius muscles.

What Do the Hip Flexors Do?

Flexion means pulling closer together. When a flexor muscle contracts, it draws two bones together, typically bending at a joint. In the case of the hip flexors, they draw together the bones of the leg and the bones of the hip or spine at the hip joint. If the hip is already flexed, such as when you are sitting, these muscles aren't working. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to having weak and tight hip flexors as they are always in the shortened position. They need to get a workout when you are standing and doing movements such as raising your leg to climb stairs, run, or ride a bicycle.​

Psoas Major Muscle

The psoas muscle is a deep muscle that connects the spine to the leg. In fact, it is the only muscle that does so. It runs from your lower back through the pelvis, passing to the front of the hip where it attaches to the top of the femur, your thigh bone.

Iliacus Muscle

The Iliacus is a flat, triangular muscle, which lies deep within in the pelvis. It attaches from the pelvis to the thigh bone (femur). Its primary action is to flex and rotate the thigh.

Rectus Femoris Muscle

This muscle is one of the four quadriceps muscles, attaching the pelvis to the patellar tendon of the knee. Squats and lunges exercise the rectus femoris.

Pectineus Muscle

The pectineus muscle is a flat, quadrangular muscle that lies at the top inner thigh. It is primarily responsible for hip flexion, but it also adducts and rotates the thigh.

Sartorius Muscle

The sartorius muscle is a long thin muscle that runs down the length of the thigh from the pelvis to the knee. It is the longest muscle in the human body and helps flex the knee and leg.


You can strain or tear one or more of your hip flexors why sudden movements such as changing directions while running or kicking. Sports and athletic activities where this is likely to occur include running, football, soccer, martial arts, and hockey. In everyday life, you can strain a hip flexor when you slip and fall or make a sudden change in direction. The chief symptom of a strained or torn hip flexor is a pain in the area at the front of your hip where it meets your thigh. With a tear, it may be hard to walk and you may need to use crutches as it heals.

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