If you are dealing with pain in your hips, this quick read and video may be all you need to find some relief without having to make costly trips to a doctor or therapist.
Many associate hip pain with age or an injury. But just like your back, hip pain doesn’t discriminate.
Hip discomfort is something that anyone can experience — from a young high school athlete, a stay-at-home mom, someone that sits at a desk all day, and certainly a gym-goer!
If you don’t have any hip pain now, you probably will at some point, so you may want to bookmark this page for later!
The exact cause of ANY body pain can often be difficult to pinpoint, but when it comes to the hips, the general location of your discomfort can usually be very telling about the underlying cause. Important …. because knowing what is causing your pain is essential if you want to find relief!
Our in-house expert physical therapist Dr. Zaki Afzal says when people are more active, they usually experience pain in the front of the hips. Whereas pain felt in the back or sides of the hips is generally seen more in the elderly or sedentary.
Since we are focused on helping relieve hip issues that tend to come from being more active, this article and video will focus mainly on reasons you could have pain in the FRONT of the hips and some simple ways to find relief .. fast!!!
No matter where you feel hip pain, if it is due to an injury or accompanied by anything more serious such as (but not limited to) ….
- A joint that appears deformed
- The inability to move your leg or hip
- Intense pain
- Sudden swelling
- The inability to put weight on the affected leg
DO NOT try any of these corrective exercises!! See a professional for a one on one assessment!
If you missed our other FIX YOUR BODY articles and videos, this is actually part four of a six-part series we are doing on how you can fix your body at home!
We have already discussed the neck, shoulders, and lower back. After we talk about the hips today, we will wrap up the series discussing knee and ankle pain!
All previous episodes will be linked at the end of this article if you are interested! To make sure you don’t miss any future episodes – just hit the subscribe button HERE!
Now, let’s dive into all things HIPS!
FIX YOUR BODY AT HOME: HIP PAIN
STEP ONE: Perform A Self Assessment
The first thing you need to do if you are certain that your hip discomfort is movement-related is assess what motions you are most limited in.
Here are two assessments to quickly perform that will tell you if restrictions could be causing your pain.
Check Internal/External Hip Rotation
Hip rotation happens when your knee is not moving, and your foot is moving instead. External rotation of the hip occurs when your foot moves inwards, and your hip turns out. When your foot moves out, and your hip turns in, that is internal rotation.
You want to check both, and it’s really simple to do!
- Get in front of a mirror, or put your phone in selfie mode so you can better see how you are moving.
- Take a seat with your feet off the ground.
- Hold the quad/knee of the hip you want to check.
- Take your other hand and help yourself rotate that foot in and out.
- Switch sides and repeat.
You should be able to rotate about 45-degrees for external rotation and at least 35-degrees for internal rotation.
If you can’t, we have some exercises below that will help give you better hip rotation range of motion!
First, perform one more quick assessment!
Check Hip Flexion
Hip flexion is just a fancy phrase for how far towards your chest you can bring your knee. You want to make sure you have a pretty good range of motion here because this motion comes up a lot in your life. Getting out of a chair, out of your car, sitting on the toilet, squatting, lunging, leg press, etc.
It is really simple to check your hip flexion!
- Lie on your back
- Pick up one knee, let it bend, bring it toward your chest.
- See how closed you can make the angle between your torso and thigh.
- Check the other side.
- You want this to generally be 100-degrees or higher.
- If you have a limitation, you may notice your hip going “outwards” — this is very telling of how your pelvic is moving.
But wait, aren’t we talking about the hips? Why is the pelvis important?
Dr. Afzal says to look at it this way — “The pelvis is the train tracks, and the hip is the train. The train is only going to go where the tracks allow.”
If following your self-assessment, you discover that you are restricted in either of these movements; this could be why your hips hurt! We have some corrective exercises below that should help!
STEP TWO: PERFORM CORRECTIVE EXERCISES
You can do some fast and easy fixes at home if either of the above movement restrictions is where your hip pain originates. Some of them only take 30 seconds and can often bring instant relief and changes in mobility!
But don’t forget what we said earlier. If your hip pain is due to an injury or accompanied by anything more serious, do not attempt any of these assessments or corrective exercises.
3 THINGS THAT CAN QUICKLY HELP EASE HIP PAIN
1: OPEN UP YOUR LOWER GLUTE
If limited hip flexion is your issue, you may need to work to “open up” a particular area of the lower glute just below your hip bone.
Yes, the glutes! Remember that everything is connected! To do this, all you need is a small hard ball (like a lacrosse ball) and the floor!
Ball To Lower Glute Soft Tissue Release
This exact spot of soft tissue that needs to be worked on can be a little tricky to locate, but you will know when you find it because it will be pretty tender!
You must target the right spot for this corrective exercise to work, so you may want to check out this video for a visual of exactly where it is located and some tips to help you find it!
Once you locate the “sweet spot,” now you just need to open it up! Here is how to do that in about 30 seconds!
- Grab a lacrosse ball, tennis ball, or mobility tool that is designed for bodywork. Anything small and firm.
- Lie on the ground, flip over onto your back, and put the ball directly on the tender spot. You can also sit up and prop yourself up on your side. How you position your body depends on how much pressure you want to apply to the tender spot and what feels most comfortable for you.
- When you hit this tender spot, stop and “sink” into it and do tiny shearing movements. This is NOT going to feel good in the moment, but you only need to spend about 30-60 seconds stimulating the area.
- If needed, switch sides and perform on the other glute.
- Reassess your hip flexion. You should notice a huge improvement in how much closer you can get your knee to your torso!
Once this area is no longer restricted, you should have more range of motion to squat, lunge, deadlift, or do anything that requires your knee to go to your chest.
This type of compression/shearing is very different from merely foam rolling the glutes. But just like ANY soft tissue work, it’s not a permanent fix. We suggest throwing this into your current mobility work/stretching routine and/or on lower body days!
2: GET YOUR PELVIS MOVING
Remember what we said earlier. Your pelvis plays a major role in hip movement.
If your pelvis isn’t moving how you want, your hips won’t either.
In the previous exercise, you applied steady pressure to the affected tissue. This next corrective exercise is more of an “active” exercise that helps get your pelvis moving.
It can not only help increase your range of motion — it can also help build strength and muscle!
Front Foot Elevated Split Squat
You will be in a lunge stance and performing a split squat but NOT in the way you would typically perform them.
You will be working through a split squat type movement to see how much you can move your pelvis while your foot is on a platform.
With this variation, there is one slight (but significant) “shift” of your hips that makes all the difference in whether this is a corrective exercise or not.
- Place your right front foot on a stable elevated surface of about 4-6 inches and step back with your left foot a little bit. You will sort of be in a split squat/lunge position.
- Shift about 75% of your weight to your front foot and 25% to your back foot.
- You should feel the inside edge of your foot. Be careful not to roll to the outside part of your foot.
- While in that split stance, rotate your pelvis inward toward your front leg. You should automatically feel a slight stretch in your glutes and feel your groin muscle turn on. If you don’t feel it, stay in this position until you do.
- Once you feel it, slowly rotate your hip out and back for several repetitions.
- When you have mastered this back/forth movement and feel the muscles mentioned above are activated, you can move on to the next step and add the actual squat movement. Do not proceed until you FEEL those muscles working.
- Perform a slow and controlled split squat. Ensure your pelvis is rotated toward that front leg and stays there throughout the entire movement. With your hips shifted inward, it should feel totally different and more difficult than a regular split squat.
Dr. Afzal suggests doing 2 sets of 5-6 reps daily. You can do them to start your morning, before any activity you enjoy, or as a warm-up on your lower body days.
Once you have completed the exercise, lie on your back again and check your hip flexion. You should be able to bring your knee much closer to your chest!
You should notice less pinching in the front of the hip, but also, during squatting motions, you should notice your hips are doing most of the work instead of your back getting involved too soon.
3: MAKE CHANGES IN THE GYM
We’ve gone over things you can do at home or even as a warm-up before your lift, but what about when you feel pain during the lift itself?
If you only have pain when squatting, or you have tried the corrective exercises above and still have a pinching feeling when you squat — you probably need to adjust your squat stance.
We touched on this in our back pain episode, but how you begin your squat could also be the source of your hip pain, and there is an EASY fix!
Adjust Your Squat Stance
Before you squat down, the “set up” will determine how much motion you have in your hips.
If you start in an over-extended position (too much back arch), you will automatically shut down the room in the front of the hip. As you squat down, you will run out of room much sooner.
But if you start in a stacked position with your pelvis tucked under, you give the front of your hips more room so you can go deeper without feeling a pinch!
To show you what we mean, try this. It’s a great visualization!
- Lie down on the floor.
- Go into an arched back position. If you aren’t sure what we mean by that, you can see Vince demo it at the end of the video above.
- Try to bring your knee to your chest. With your back arched like this, you won’t be able to get very far.
- Now, leave your leg up, but put your spine in a stacked position. That will instantly unlock motion that you already had!
If you are arching your back and not starting your squat in a stacked position, the pain you feel likely isn’t because of a range of motion restriction. You probably have the range of motion needed, and it’s just your squat set-up that is holding you back and causing pinching pain! Take 5 seconds to fix this, and the pinching should be gone instantly!
WE HOPE THIS ARTICLE AND VIDEO HELPED YOU
FIGURE OUT WHY YOUR HIPS HURT AND HOW TO FIX THEM!!
You need to consider the root of your pain! You should not attempt any of these exercises if your pain is extreme or not related to joints and muscles.
Please talk to your doctor, or if you are in the Las Vegas area, feel free to click here to contact Dr. Afzal. He would love to help you!
Next week we are moving down the body. Make sure you check back; we will be talking about knee pain!
In the meantime, if you have any questions about this hip pain article and video, you can leave them in the comment section below.