18 Sep Don’t Be Pushing Through That Hip Pinch In Your Squat
Pinching in the front of the hip has become one of the most common symptoms individuals complain of when squatting.
What exactly is it?
That pinching of the hip is known as femoroacetabular impingement (FAI). What you are feeling with that pinch is that the ball of the hip joint is running out of room and is getting stopped by the hip socket. What is getting pinched could be the labrum or cartilage of the hip, and the repeated trauma could lead to damage that could lead to the need of surgical intervention.
How do we get rid of the pinch of the hip?
One of the things we can do is open up our feet a little bit. All of us have different hip formations that is going to makes us all squat differently. This is a quick fix we can implement so we can continue to train the squat without having pain.
But if we want to improve our symptoms and decrease our risk of further injury we need to look at the hips themselves and also up and down the chain.
Ankle mobility is one of the most commonly restricted joints that I see on a regular basis. Most people lack proper ankle dorsiflexion which is required for us when squatting. Wonder why powerlifters wear shoes with huge heel lifts in order to squat? Well, quite frankly, it makes the squat a lot easier. But if you’re not an olympic lifter I’m not going to put you in shoes with huge heel lifts.
Here is a test to see if you happen to lack ankle dorsiflexion.
For this test, have your foot about a hands width from the wall. Lean forward while keeping your heel on the ground until you touch the wall. If you touch the wall with your knee, then you have decent ankle dorsiflexion. If you can’t get the knee to the wall, or your heel comes off the ground then you have some limited ankle mobility.
If you don’t pass this test, what are some exercises that you could be doing?
You can work on the testing position where you just shift your weight back and forth and hold for a 10 second count for 10-15 reps. You can do it both in the half kneeling position, as shown in the picture, or standing.
Another exercise we can do is by getting help from a resistance band where the band is going to provide a glide of the tibia while going into dorsiflexion. If we can restore some this mobility in our ankles then it will lead to better positioning for our hips.
Knee position on the squat is huge in regards to hip health. Perhaps the biggest cue is to not allow the knees to fall inside the feet (genu valgum). Our knees should be staying on top of our ankles and maintaining a vertical shin position.
If our knees are collapsing in on a squat, then we know that the glutes are most likely weak. We can get specific and work on the glutes that are weak through a variety of exercises. One of the easiest fixes we can do is by adding a mini band around the knees so we have something that we are pushing against.
Now, lets get down to the root of the problem. The hip joint has a great deal of range of motion that we should all be able to achieve. As a result of prolonged sitting and footwear that causes a lot of kinetic issues, many people lose a pretty significant amount of range of motion.
We can perform this test in order to see if we do have adequate mobility to squat.
We should be able to get our knee to our chest. If we look like this, then we know that we have limited hip mobility.
An added bonus to this test is that we can pull the up into different angles to tell us where our hips have the most degree of freedom to move. That can give us an idea of how one’s hips are formed and what stance would be best for them to squat in.
An exercise that has helped me personally is by using a resistance band to provide a glide of the joint. Many people argue how much joint play there actually is in the hip due to how deep the head of the femur sits inside the socket. However, if an exercise or intervention is helping someone who am I to say to they should not be performing that exercise?
Another area that is often neglected and could be limiting motion is the adductors. These muscles that connect mostly around the pubic bone to the inside of the femur could be limiting hip mobility. Mobilizing these structures can be a huge game changer.
One of my all time favorite exercises that is a go to for me when I need to reset the hips is the 90/90 hip lift. Many of us have a forward rotating pelvis, and that positioning is going to limit range of motion because we could be hitting a bony block quicker. This breathing exercise was mentioned in a previous post that you can click here to revisit.
What if someone passes all these mobility tests, but their squat still isn’t looking quite right? There could be a motor control issue that we are dealing with. Meaning, that there is a lack of muscle coordination in order to perform these movements.
The psoas march is a great option to help improve motor control. We get muscles working in a orderly fashion that will lead to better squat mechanics.
If you are dealing with pinching in the hip, DO NOT PUSH THROUGH IT!
The chronic effect could lead to worsening of the issue. Be sure to visit a licensed medial provider to have your symptoms evaluated as this is not a means to avoid medical treatment.
There are several other factors that could lead to femoroacetabular impingement that I did not discuss in this post. And many individuals could have limitations and don’t have any symptoms of pain. Look at all these areas to not only reduce injury risk, but to improve squat mechanics for everyone.
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