2 COMMON CAUSES OF SNAPPING HIP SYNDROME AND HOW TO FIX IT

03/12/2024

Ahhhh, the good old days… when Snap, Crackle, and Pop came from your cereal and not your body. 

If your hips click and pop when you’re stretching, walking, or doing other exercises involving the hip joint, it can be alarming but let us put your mind at ease.   

You do not need to worry or feel concerned about clicks and pops in the hip joint - as long as it’s not painful. The clicking itself is typically harmless, but understanding the cause and finding effective solutions is important.

If your hip is snapping frequently and due to an imbalance or weakness in your body, it can lead to pain from more serious issues like bursitis, a painful swelling of the cushiony sacs within the hip joint.

Woman side lunging with hip clicking sounds

Causes of Hip Clicking 

Snapping, popping, and clunking occurs when a muscle or tendon (the strong tissue that connects muscle to bone) moves over a bony protrusion in your hip. It’s a little like plucking a taut rubber band or guitar string with your finger.

There are two common types of snapping hip syndrome. Which kind depends on where the snapping occurs.

External Snapping Hip

Anatomy art showing location of external snapping hip cause

External Snapping Hip occurs on the outside of the hip where the bony part of the hip joint sticks out a little. That bony part is your greater trochanter. When your iliotibial (IT) band (the tendon that runs down the side of your leg) slides over the greater trochanter, it can produce a snapping sensation.

But what makes the Iliotibial band do this?

  • Excessive foot pronationWhen your foot rolls or collapses in.
  • Hip abductor weakness: Hip abduction is the movement of your leg away from the center of your body. Abduction weakness and limitation can cause your iliotibial band to become too tight.
  • Internal tibial torsion: When your shinbone twists inwardly and pulls your IT band closer to your bones.

Internal Extra-Articular Snapping Hip

Anatomy art showing Internal Snapping Hip cause

Internal Snapping Hip will be felt deep inside and slightly to the front of the hip. Either the psoas muscle or the iliopsoas tendon (both responsible for raising your leg) slides over the front of the hip bone and catches.

But what makes the psoas do this?

  • Overuse: Athletes tend to experience psoas pain and tightness due to overuse. It is especially high for dancers and runners.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: At the other end of the extreme are people who do move enough!
  • Weak core muscles: When your core is weak, the psoas can’t do its job as well and will get tight.

    Getting Rid Of Hip Clicks, Pops, and Clunks

    Since we know that Snapping or Clicking Hip Syndrome is often linked to weak muscles and or misaligned joints, strengthening and aligning these areas is key to building stable, aligned, and click free hips. 

    For those of you ready to dive into addressing these issues, we recommend you start with our Back & Core program. A strong core is foundational for every other area of your body. Then move into our Hips & Glutes program, followed by Knee, Ankle, & Foot. Together, these programs will address misalignments and weaknesses that contribute to those tight hip flexor muscles and IT band.

    Here are three exercises from our programs to get you started. It doesn’t take a ton of weight or speed to make progress. Move slowly - with control - and with consistent practice you’ll enjoy stronger and more mobile hips.

    Double Leg Hip Rotations

    Banded External Hip Rotations

    Double Leg Hip Rotations are a great way to start firing your glute max to get your thighs outwardly rotated and keep the alignment of your hip, knee, and ankle when you walk, run, and lunge. 

    1. Place a small circular resistance band around your feet and lay down on the ground with your legs hip width apart or slightly wider.
    2. Flex your feet and tuck your tailbone under (this will turn your glute on) as you outwardly rotate your thighs. Hold for 2-3 seconds.
    3. Then inwardly rotate your thighs and hold for 2-3 seconds. Your glutes should be LIT after a few reps of this. 

    Aim for 2-3 rounds of 10-15 reps each. You can level up the resistance difficulty as they get easier.

    Deep Tissue Psoas Release

    Deep Tissue Psoas Release

    As discussed above, your psoas muscle extends from the spine and runs through the pelvis to the femur. Its job is to flex the hip and lift your leg in front of your body. Even walking uses the psoas muscle.

    As a result, the psoas muscle can get tight and often benefits from some deep tissue massage. You can use a ball for this to do the release yourself.

    If you don’t have a ball…

    Step 1: Find a partner who doesn’t mind getting right in there.

    Step 2: Lay flat on your back and simply have your partner press down with gradually increasing pressure with three fingers into your psoas. Your job is to try to breathe through it. 

    Step 3: Your partner should then work their way down the psoas muscle along the front of the hip, each time pressing down quite firmly. If tolerable, have them wiggle around on that muscle a bit. 

    Remember to keep taking slow, full breaths. You want to try to relax your muscles, after all! 

    Final tip: If you’re not sure if your partner is in the right place, lift your leg. If your partner feels a bulge under their fingers, you’re in the right place.

    Banded Clamshells

    Banded Clamshells

    Step 1: Lay on your side, and place a yoga block between your feet and a small circular band around your thighs.

    Step 2: From there, open the top leg like a book until you feel your glutes contract hard. As you’re doing this, make sure your feet are squeezing the yoga block and that your hip bones are staying stacked one on top of the other. Avoid letting your hips shift back.

    Conclusion

    You now know some of the causes of Snapping Hip Syndrome and that it’s nothing to worry about. We hope you’re able to find these few exercises helpful, but it may require more to correct long standing weaknesses and imbalances.

    Your key to strength and alignment for stable and click free hips is found in the MoveU membership.

    We provide comprehensive programs designed to address these issues and more with coach and community support for solutions that last. Enroll today!




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