Do you ever feel pain or tightness in the front of your hip while squatting? A lot of times this starts as some extra tightness/soreness after a tough workout. Typically, the first thought from people dealing with this is that there is an issue with the hip flexors. Hip flexor stretches are the go to for many as that is where they feel the tightness or pain. Maybe you have even been diagnosed with hip flexor issues by a medical provider.
Unfortunately this does not actually address the real issue. The problem is more likely a condition called Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI) and is actually an issue with the ability of the hip to accept load causing irritation to the front of the hip joint. This is normally seen with squatting or sumo deadlift. Other symptoms include pain with prolonged sitting.
The difference between a tight hip flexor and FAI is how the symptoms present. The hip flexors are on slack in the bottom positions of the squat/sumo deadlift and sitting and would not typically be painful or feel tight in this position. The position loads the joint and helps us to determine where the issue is arising from.
So hip flexor stretching has not helped…what should you do? First you should modify your training to reduce the painful sensation. You can do this by reducing the depth of your squat (box squats are a good option) or reducing the width of sumo deadlifts. If sitting is part of your day and irritating to your hip then using a higher chair or if that is not possible rounding your lower back can take stress off the front of your hip.
Working on improving your hip mobility as your symptoms improve can allow you to progress back to full range of motion lifts. The most common limitations of hip range of motion with FAI are hip flexion and internal rotation. Here are a couple of exercises that can help to restore your movement.
Other things to consider are any strength or motor control issues that you may have going on that would add more load to your hip. Also addressing mobility issues other surrounding areas (low back) or down the chain (ankles/feet) can help to reduce stress on the hip.
Hip pain can be one of the more frustrating issues that people in the gym deal with. They typically live with it for a long time prior to getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. Having an understanding of the issue that you have is a great first step to getting on the path to improvement.
Do you have hip pain? Reach out for a free discovery call and we can discuss your issues and determine a plan so that you can return to exercising pain free!