Causes of Hip tightness and pinching
It’s not so much that the squat in itself causes hip pinching pain. It comes from the less than ideal rotation of the hip and pelvis during the squat movement.
First of all let me state that there are actually two main types of hip pinching pain. Today we are going to address the less severe and more common.
Hip tightness that develops after squats
One thing that is very common among active populations is the sensation of bad tightness and even sometimes pain in the front and side of the hip. It is described as a “pinching” in the hip and travels up into the lower side of the torso.
There are different exercises (not just squats), that will cause this type of sensation, but a very common one is squats, especially barbell squats.
The body tends to show more imbalances when doing barbell movements. After some experience, many of us can tell that we have developed a “stronger side”. This sometimes is seen when only one knee deviates, or deviates more during a squat. Sometimes there is a clear hip shift either going down or up in the squat.
These side to side imbalances can be more subtle and go undetected for quite some time before they start causing any type of real signs or symptoms. But eventually, if not corrected it will lead to injuries of the hips, low back-spine and knees.
With enough stress this can develop into things like femoral acetabular impingement, MCL knee sprain or tear, or IT-band syndrome. When the pain or pinching is more intense these conditions need to be ruled out.
Even though the symptom is pinching in the hip, the actual cause of the problem comes from the core.
Many times what is seen is that one side is weaker than the other. One side of the core can stabilize better than the other side. This will lead to the body unequally “loading” the hip and legs. In response the hip will fail to stabilize the knee and the knee will cave in. This ends up causing overstretching of the IT-band on the side of the leg.
After all, the job of pushing the weight up needs to get done, it will use the most efficient way to do it.
After many times of doing the same incorrect movement pattern the “most loaded” side will usually develop tightness and pinching in the hip that moves into tightness on the side of the waist.
Working on rolling the side of tightness with a foam roller or lacrosse ball sometimes will help release the pressure sensation; however, it will usually not be enough to truly address it.
There are 3 things that need to be considered to fix the problem and prevent it from becoming a more serious issue:
- RE-SET THE ROTATION IN THE PELVIS
The side that presents with the tightness and pain needs to be addressed first, the unbalance between the hips and core and the constant loading on one side leaves the tight hip pretty beat up. The pelvis needs to be re-aligned into the correct rotation through a proper chiropractic adjustment.
- RELEASE THE TIGHTNESS
The soft tissue that is tight and the origin of tension need to be released. Active Release Technique, Graston, and other soft tissue techniques should release the tightness. Also, not because it feels tight means you should stretch it; many times, stretching provides temporary relief just to come back with a nagging constant tight sensation.
- FIX THE MOVEMENT
If, what actually causes the problem is poor core stabilization, then the imbalances need to be corrected and the core activation under the barbell/load needs to be strengthened. Side planks are a great body weight movement to start rehabilitation; however, there should be a more personalized and targeted approach to fixing each patient’s weak sides. It’s not an individual muscle problem; the way someone moves must be corrected. Foot arches, glute recruitment and core activation need to be addressed on an individualized basis.