If you're a fitness junkie, lifter, or a casual exerciser, you are likely doing some variation of squats, and you may be experiencing hip pain with squats.
Squats are a great exercise to work the quads, glutes, and even works the pelvic floor when done correctly.
But what happens when you start to feel a pinch or a pain in the front of your hip?
If you're feeling this, you may even be noticing it when sitting or any time you are bringing your hip more than 90 degrees towards your chest.
A hip flexor stretch will NOT fix hip pain with squats! And here's why.
What is happening to create this pinch is that the femur (your hip bone) is actually sitting too far forward into the socket (your pelvis), and in order to keep the body stable, the psoas or hip flexor muscle will grip and pull to try to stabilize the joint.
This leads to the feeling of hip flexor tightness. You may experience some very temporary relief with a hip flexor stretch, but you will find you need to stretch it over and over again.
The reason the hip flexor stretch doesn't work is because the hip flexor is not the problem.
The hip flexor is simply compensating to hold the femur back into the socket. The only way it can do that is to grip with tightness.
If you don't actually correct the femur position problem, the hip flexor will continue to grip and be tight.
So what is actually causing the femur to be too far forward in the socket?
The deep hip rotators at the back of the hip! They are overworking and causing the femur to shove forward. When deep hip rotators are doing this, our other muscles in the back body are weak and shutting off. We also are left hanging out in constant hip external rotation.
But to manage a squat of hip flexion beyond 90 degrees, we need the opposite of hip external rotation, and we need the femur to be back in the socket.
So how do we fix hip pain with squats?
You can start with some gentle breathing and positional exercises demonstrated in the video to open up the back body and release the deep hip rotators.
Then, a graded rehab program to continue with corrective exercises and more demanding hip strengthening exercises can help keep the femur in its right position.
It's best to work with a skilled Holistic Physical Therapist who is trained in these corrective exercises and fitness programming.
If you're still experiencing pinching in the front of your hip or hip pain with squats, give us a call to take a look at your mechanics and get you squatting better without pain!
Dr. Melissa Thompson, PT, DPT, MTC, PCES, FAMM
Pelvic Health Physical Therapist and Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist