Hip flexor / adductor problem…?

Last August I ran Cracken Edge Fell Race. On the way down the final hill into the finish, I really let go and hammered it as hard as I could. It felt amazing just to run that fast. However, that was the beginning of something that has plagued me for quite a while.

The day after the race I woke up with a pain in my lower abs/upper leg, like a muscle strain, but not quite. It was difficult to sit up to get out of bed and I found myself rolling over to drop onto the floor as an ab curl was out of the question. Too much pain.

Oh dear, I thought to myself. Must have strained a hip flexor or something. Still, it’ll heal up and then I shall be right as rain. Maybe ease off the running for a while.

I went on a walking scrambling holiday for a couple of weeks. Came back. It wasn’t really any better. No pain when I was walking, but as soon as I began to run, the pain was there. August came and went with no discernible improvement. I took a few weeks off running altogether, and yet still, no improvement. October arrived and I wrote myself out of the relay teams as I really couldn’t run fast without pain (slow was ok, as was walking, but running hard was still as bad as it was in August).

I was beginning to wonder if it was in fact a muscle strain or tear – it just didn’t seem to be healing, and by 3 months in, there should be some kind of ease or response to reduced loading. What if it is a hernia?

From sitting, feeling and generally moving around I had ascertained movements that made it hurt, and those that didn’t – the pattern of pain certainly didn’t fit a hernia. If anything, the pain came on during adduction and hip flexion… not quite a true hip flexor issue, more like (and forgive me for being technical), a pectineus problem.

Now – the pain was occurring right on my pelvis – just where the muscle attached, as well as being more of a general pain when I ran.

Rest didn’t seem to help it.

Right, so its now going into January and the pain is much the same as back in September – it may have got slightly better… but let’s try something new.

Weight it, stress it with something heavy.

I began to do heavy lunges – working from 2x 16kg up to 2x 24kg walking lunges. Crikey. That certainly affected the area. During the movements it let me know it didn’t particularly like it, and I was not particularly stable. After the exercise, the muscles ached. Yes, they ached, but the pain was not there. So I did it again.

And again.

And got heavier.

And did more.

In April I was going pretty well – in terms of not running with any pain. It was there sometimes, and not there at others. I continued doing longer runs, and getting more ascent in as well, trying to gain strength back in my hips.  

It is now May and on the outings I have been doing recently, I have to say that I really can’t feel the problem any more. Whether this is because of the heavy reps I started with, or if the injury needed this long to rest and recover, I have no idea…

To give you an idea though, In December I was running, with pain. I then ran through January to March – again, fairly consistently with a bit of pain, so the main thing that changed was the attitude to hitting it with heavy weight.

So there you have it. Rest is not always the answer. Doing loads of exercise is also, not necessarily the answer either – but intelligent loading, coupled with rest is a good thing.


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