Why Do I Have Hip Pain With Squatting?
Having pain or pinching when performing squats in the gym can be very frustrating. Squatting is a foundational movement in the gym. It is a great way to build overall strength and a part of many workouts. Hip pain or pinching generally occurs near the bottom of the squat.
Hip pain when squatting can be caused by a number of factors. We will discuss a few of the main reasons this may happen and what you can do about it.
The three most common issues leading to hip pain or pinching are limited mobility, limited strength, and bony changes.
Limitations in hip or ankle mobility can lead to hip pain during squats by placing increased stress on the front of the hip.
You need good ankle dorsiflexion mobility during a squat so that your knees can move forward as your hips go down. If you are lacking ankle mobility you will have to make up the motion somewhere and that usually comes from the hip or the back. You will end up folding more at the hips and this can place more pressure on the front of the hip.
You also need enough hip rotation. This allows your thigh to move properly as the pelvis drops down in the squat. If your hip mobility is limited you may feel like you run out of room before you get to the bottom of the squat.
Limited Strength or Coordination
If you have limitations in leg or core strength it may cause you to arch your back and tilt your pelvis forward to try to produce enough force. This will put your hip in a more flexed position and will limit the amount of movement that can occur when you try to squat. Arching your back and tilting your pelvis forward gives your body a sense of stability. However, it uses the end ranges of the hips and lower back to create support instead of using your muscles and connective tissue.
It is possible to have some bony changes on the femur or the hip socket limiting the amount of room for movement. This is referred to as a cam or pincer impingement. You may also hear this referred to as femoral acetabular impingement or FAI. Even though there are some changes made to the bone over time many people can still get back to squatting pain free with some simple modifications and good rehabilitation.
Some Simple Solutions for Hip Pain When Squatting
While it may feel frustrating, all is not lost! Keep reading to learn how to combat your hip pain with squatting.
Form Changes that Can Decrease Hip Pain with Squatting
Changing your form slightly can allow you to continue training while decreasing the amount of hip pain you have during squats. Even if some small adjustments change your discomfort, it is still a good idea to get a comprehensive assessment. This will help you understand what is going on, why it is happening, and how to address it long term.
Changing Stance: Moving your feet wider or turning your toes out slightly can give your hip a little more room to move into when you approach the bottom of the squat. Play around with moving your feet a little wider and find the stance that feels the most comfortable.
Elevating your heels on a ramp, weight plates, or weight lifting shoes can also be helpful for many people. This allows a little more ankle mobility and also shifts your weight backwards to allow for more room in the front of the hip as you squat down.
Limiting Range of Motion: If your pain always happens at the same point in the squat you can use a box or bench to limit your movement. Place the box right above the point where your hip starts to hurt. This will allow you to continue to train hard without pinching in your hip every rep.
Changing the Type of Squat: Changing where the weight is placed during a squat can make a big difference and allow you to continue training. Here is a progression starting from most hip friendly. Plate squat (hold a weight plate out in front of you) → goblet squat (hold a kettlebell or dumbbell against your chest) → front squat → back squat.
Having the weight in front of you allows you to shift back in space and clear some room in the front of the hip.
Mobility Deficits that Contribute to Hip Pain with Squatting
Ankle Mobility: If your ankle mobility is limited here is one solution to work on it. You can kneel down and place one foot in front of you. Keeping your heel down you will lean forward until you feel a stretch in the back of your ankle. You should not feel pinching in the front of the ankle. Rock back and forth feeling a stretch each time. Perform for 2-3 sets of 15.
Hip Mobility: There are many hip mobility drills out there. If you are having hip pain with squatting and feel your hip mobility is a limiting factor here are two movements that help most people.
This will put you in a squat position and the band will help to mobilize your hip and reduce the pinching sensation during squatting. Perform 2-3 sets of 15.
Strength Deficits that Contribute to Hip Pain with Squatting
If strength or core control is something you are looking to improve here are a few things to try. Performing single leg exercises such as step ups, lunges, or box squats. This will allow you to continue to train and build up strength. It may also show some deficits side to side that you can begin to work on. Generally single leg exercises are tolerated better and cause less symptoms as well.
If These Tips Don’t Help Your Hip Pain with Squatting
It is very difficult to cover all the reasons or possible solutions for hip pain when squatting in a blog post. Hip pain when squatting is something that we see often and we are able to help a lot of people get back to squatting pain free.
Click here to schedule a free consultation to see if we are a good fit to help you get back to enjoying squatting in the gym!