If a pain in your hip is keeping you up at night, adopting any one of the three best sleep positions for hip flexor strain may be one of the most effective ways to finally get a good night’s rest.
One of the most common causes of sleep problems for athletes, the issue is said to account for as much as 6% of all sports injuries, with soccer and ice hockey players the worst affected.
That said, you don’t have to be a sports star to struggle with a bad hip.
Any kind of over-use of the hip muscles or even extended periods of sitting down can strain the hip flexor muscles.
Whatever the case may be for you, that strain can become incredibly painful, affecting your quality of sleep and your everyday quality of life.
While there are lots you can do to improve your pain throughout the day, it’s the sleeping hours that we’re most concerned with today, partly because that’s what we’re all about here at Sweet Island Dreams, but mostly because getting enough hours of quality, restorative rest is of paramount importance if your pain is ever going to subside.
With all that in mind, this guide will teach you the two best sleep positions for hip flexor strains and offer you helpful suggestions to further minimize your pain and get that much-needed shuteye.
What is Hip Flexor Pain?
A hip flexor strain is any injury caused to a group of muscles known as the iliacus, psoas, pectineus, rectus femoris, and sartorius muscles. These muscles form your hip flexors, which connect the femur to the hips, back, and groin, help you move your leg, and, as the name implies, help you flex your hip.
Such injuries can be as minor as a slight pull which gets better with rest and a bit of ice, to major, third-degree sprains in which the hip bone actually breaks along with the muscles around it being strained.
The symptoms can range from a sharp pain in the upper leg, hips, and thighs to swelling or bruising, as well as stiffness and a reduced range of motion.
While sitting at a computer for too long and athletic injuries are the most common causes of hip flexor problems, lying in the wrong position at night can also be a major factor in exacerbating that pain.
This has the knock-on effect of making it tough to sleep, which, in turn, makes it even harder to recover from our injury in the first place.
So what can we do about it?
Quite a bit, as it happens. Here’s what you need to know to finally get some pain relief for your hip flexor and enjoy a night without interrupting sleep.
Top 2 Best Sleep Positions for Hip Flexor Strains
Before we talk about why sleeping on your back or side may be the most effective way to rest, it’s worth pointing out that, really, the best sleep position for hip flexor strain is any position that helps you sleep solidly throughout the night with the most comfort possible.
After all, that’s what we’re really trying to achieve here, enough hours of restorative sleep to give you the best fighting chance of success in healing your pain.
So, if you find that one position doesn’t work, simply switch to the other one, or even feel free to modify either of these suggestions to find what works best for you.
1. On Your Back
Sleeping on your back ensures that your weight is evenly distributed across the widest surface of your body which results in less pressure on the hips and other parts of our anatomy.
To help prevent lower back pain while you sleep, adopt this position while placing a small pillow under your knees. This helps to keep your hips aligned and relieve tension in the buttocks, lower back, and front of the up joint.
Sleeping in this position with an under-the-knee pillow will also prove to be a great way to maintain your spine’s natural curve, which will further alleviate pressure.
As a quick side note, you may also want to check out our guides to the best sleep position for sleep apnea and what to do about snoring, as one downside to sleeping on your back is that it can cause or exacerbate both issues.
2. On Your Side With Pillows
Lying on your side is largely considered to be one of the all-around best positions to sleep in to improve any number of health conditions.
While you may have thought that not to be the case with hip pain, side-sleeping in the proper position can actually prove to be a great way to enjoy optimum comfort throughout the nighttime hours.
Naturally, you’ll want to sleep on the side that doesn’t hurt. If both sides hurt, try your best to alternate through the night.
Whichever side you choose, bend your knees to shorten the hip flexors and reduce strain. While you’re doing this, it’s also important to place a pillow between your knees.
This stops your top leg from falling across your bottom leg, a position that can strain the hip joint and impact the muscles, tendons, and bursa around the hip and pelvis area.
Holding a second small pillow between your ankles will also provide added support and help keep your legs in a straight position throughout the evening.
Why You Shouldn’t Sleep on Your Stomach if Your Hip Hurts?
Make no mistake about it; lying on your stomach is one of the worst positions to sleep in if you have hip pain.
Sleeping on your tummy will put a tremendous amount of pressure on the hips and pushes your spine out of its natural alignment, causing plenty of pain to the back, too.
In other words, not only will this position intensify the pain you’re already in, it could well lead to other pain problems down the road.
If you absolutely have to sleep on your belly because you can’t nod off any other way, you can help to relieve the pain slightly by placing a thin pillow under your abdomen to improve alignment.
Doing this won’t be a magic cure, and it’s still worth at least trying to sleep on your back or side, but the cushion should at least provide some modicum of relief.
The Best Way to Sleep With Hip Flexor Pain: Do’s and Don’ts
Sleeping on your side or back is a great way to achieve pain relief from hip flexor strains while you rest, but it’s far from the only thing you can do to enjoy quality, pain-free sleep.
Here are a few top suggestions to help you get as comfortable as possible during the night.
Do: Consider Changing Your Mattress
You could adopt the most comfortable sleeping position in the world, but if your mattress is worn out or simply doesn’t provide you with the kind of support and comfort you need, then that position isn’t going to do much good.
As a general rule, experts recommend upgrading your mattress every 6-8 years, though if it’s sagging, damaged, or makes you sore, then that’s a good sign that you’ll need to replace it sooner.
People with hip pain tend to find that a good quality memory foam mattress is the best option as these mattresses conform to the natural curves of your body, promoting proper spinal alignment and preventing pain in the pressure points.
If you’re not sure what to look for, you can check out our guide to the best mattresses to buy for our advice, top tips, and recommendations.
And if a brand new mattress is a little out of your budget right now? See our guide to the best mattress toppers instead and use one of those for added comfort.
Don’t: Overextend Your Sore Hip
While spending too much time in a sedentary position is bad for your hips, you do want to at least avoid overusing the hip flexor muscles as much as possible while you recover.
If your pain is the result of a sports injury or from a specific activity, it’s best to stay away from that activity until you’re completely recovered in case you aggravate it.
Even if your hip pain doesn’t have a specific direct cause, it’s still a good idea to take things easy, combining light activity such as walking with plenty of rest.
A little daily stretching can go a long way when it comes to improving the strength of your hip muscles and aiding recovery from an injury.
Hip flexor stretches, in particular, have been shown to reduce tightness and increase the range of motion in the hip, which may not only be helpful for lowering your pain level but may also prove beneficial in avoiding a repeat injury in the future.
Lunges, the psoas hold, and the yoga pose known as pigeon are all equally recommended for helping to improve your hip muscles.
Again, referring back to our last point, the goal here is not to overdo it to the point that you cause yourself yet more discomfort but rather to simply spend a few minutes engaging in light stretching a couple of times per day.
Don’t: Drink Alcohol Before Bed
Alcohol is one of the most important things to avoid before bedtime.
While it may not directly impact your hip pain, it is likely to lead to poor sleep quality. As we’ve said multiple times throughout this guide, sufficient sleep quality is vital to helping you heal and recover, so even though those few evening drinks may be relaxing, they’re ultimately hindering your chances of getting better.
What’s more, going to bed with alcohol in your system may mean you’re less likely to focus on adopting and maintaining the best sleep position for hip pain recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleeping With Hip Pain
Here are a few important questions and answers to help you out with hip pain problems.
Does sleeping on your side cause hip pain?
Sleeping on your side can cause hip pain if you lie in a way that doesn’t properly support your body. If you’re a side-sleeper, try sleeping on the side that doesn’t hurt and using pillows to support you.
What causes hip pain at night?
Injuries, osteoarthritis, bursitis, and sciatica are some of the most common causes of nightly hip pain, though sleeping position and the quality of your mattress and pillows may also play a factor.
How can I stop my hips from hurting at night?
Stretching, icing, and gentle exercise during the day followed by adopting a healthy sleeping position on a supportive, quality mattress is the best approach to stop nightly hip pain.
Choosing the Best Sleep Position for Hip Flexor Pain: A Final Word of Advice
Living with hip flexor pain can have a hugely detrimental impact on both your quality of sleep and your quality of life, but following the advice in this guide can be helpful in minimizing that pain and giving your body the best chance of recovery.
By sleeping on your back or side on a quality mattress at night and taking as much care as possible to help yourself heal through the day by icing, stretching, and avoiding overuse, your pain should start to subside.
If it doesn’t, our last piece of advice to you today is to consult a medical professional.
After all, while hip pain can be caused by something as simple as an unsupportive mattress or sleeping in an uncomfortable position, it can also be caused by a much more serious issue such as arthritis or an injury that needs specific treatment.
Talk to a medical professional, and they’ll work with you to not only identify the root cause of the problem, but find the most effective treatment, whether that’s medication, physiotherapy, or possibly even surgery.
Finally, it’s worth reiterating that whatever position you adopt while you sleep, the main goal is to get enough hours of quality restorative sleep.
To help you achieve that, you might want to read our guide on the benefits of a good sleep schedule along with this guide on how to meditate in bed to help you drift off into a relaxing night’s rest.