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5 Common Causes of Hip Pain When Squatting

Weak hip flexors? Limited ankle and hip mobility? Hip bursitis? Not to worry! Our comprehensive guide will delve into each of these issues and equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to optimize your squatting form, alleviate hip pain, and elevate your workout routine to the next level.

Hip pain when squatting is a common issue among fitness enthusiasts and athletes. Squatting is an essential exercise for building lower body strength, but the improper execution of this exercise can lead to various types of hip pain. Understanding the causes of hip pain when squatting is critical to avoid injury and achieving optimal performance.

Whether you are new to squatting or have been doing it for years, understanding the underlying causes of hip pain can help you improve your form and ensure that you get the most out of your workouts. So let's dive in!

Ankle Mobility

Ankle mobility plays a crucial role in performing deep squats without experiencing hip pain. The ankle joint is a ball and socket joint that allows for plantarflexion (pointing the toes down) and dorsiflexion (lifting the toes up).

Limited ankle mobility can result in compensatory movements, leading to increased stress on the hips, knees, and lower back. Hip flexors are also affected by ankle mobility, as limited dorsiflexion can cause them to work harder to maintain an upright posture during squats. This can lead to tightness and discomfort in the hip flexors.

To improve ankle mobility, exercises such as calf stretches, ankle mobilization drills, and low bar squatting with heels elevated can be implemented into a training program. Moving onto the next key topic of hip mobility, it is important to note how this ties into ankle mobility during squats.

Hip Mobility

As we move on from ankle mobility, let's talk about another important aspect of squatting - hip mobility. You don't want to be the person who experiences hip pain every time they squat. That's just not fun.

Hip pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, including hip joint issues, hip flexor pain, and femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) syndrome. Improving your hip mobility can help alleviate these issues and prevent further injury.

Here are three exercises you can incorporate into your routine to improve your hip mobility:

1. Pigeon stretch: As mentioned earlier, this stretch targets the hips' rotational mobility and is an excellent way to improve it.

2. Squat-to-stand: This exercise helps with both hip and ankle mobility. It involves standing up from a squat position while keeping your feet flat on the ground.

3. Lateral band walks: This exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding the hips and promotes stability in that area.

When it comes to squatting correctly, proper core stability is just as important as good hip mobility. In our next section, we'll delve deeper into how strengthening your core can improve your squats even more.

Core Stability

The key to avoiding anterior hip pain and hip flexor pain while squatting is to maintain proper core stability. When the core muscles are weak or not engaged, it can lead to excessive anterior pelvic tilt, causing strain on the hip flexors during a squat. To prevent this, incorporating exercises that target the core muscles such as planks, bird dogs, and dead bugs can be helpful.

Another factor that can contribute to hip pain when squatting is tight hip flexors. Stretching hip flexors regularly can help alleviate tension in the hips and improve flexibility. A simple stretch like lunging forward with one foot while keeping the back leg straight and pressing the hips forward can be effective.

It's important to note that while stretching may provide temporary relief, addressing the root cause of the issue by focusing on core stability is crucial for long-term improvement.

Transitioning into the subsequent section about hip joint structure, understanding how the hips work and move can also be beneficial in preventing hip pain during exercise.

Hip Joint Structure

The structure of the hip joint can play a significant role in causing anterior hip pain when squatting. Individuals with a deep ball and socket joint may experience more pressure in the front of their hips during the movement, while those with a more shallow joint may not experience as much discomfort. This genetic factor cannot be changed, but there are ways to alleviate the pain.

One way to address this issue is by working with a physical therapist who can assess your individual joint structure and suggest modifications to your squat technique. In some cases, excessive anterior pelvic tilt or tight hip flexors can contribute to hip impingement and pain during squats. Stretching and strengthening exercises targeted at these areas may help alleviate discomfort and improve overall squat form.

Hip Bursitis

Hip bursitis is another common cause of hip pain when squatting. The bursae are small sacs filled with fluid that provide cushioning between the bones and soft tissues in the hip joint. When these sacs become inflamed due to overuse or trauma, they can cause pain in the hips, especially during activities like squatting.

The pain is typically felt on the outside of the hip and can be aggravated by movements that compress the bursae, such as squatting or sitting cross-legged. Stretching exercises and proper warm-up before exercise can help prevent bursitis, while rest and ice can provide relief if the condition does occur.

It's important to note that hip bursitis can also be caused by other factors like gait abnormalities or uneven leg length, so consulting with a healthcare provider or physical therapist may be necessary to address the root cause of the issue. By understanding the causes of hip pain when squatting, you can take the necessary steps to prevent injury and improve your form for optimal performance.


Do squats aggravate hip bursitis?

Yes, squats can aggravate hip bursitis as they can compress the bursae in the hip joint, causing pain and discomfort. If you have hip bursitis, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider or physical therapist to determine if it's safe to continue squatting and if modifications to your squatting technique or exercise regimen are necessary.

How do you know if you have weak hip flexors?

Weak hip flexors can cause a variety of issues, including lower back pain, hip pain, and difficulty lifting the legs. One common sign of weak hip flexors is difficulty performing exercises like leg raises or knee lifts. Another way to test for weak hip flexors is to lie on your back and lift your legs straight up, holding them at a 90-degree angle for as long as possible. If you're unable to hold this position for more than a few seconds, you may have weak hip flexors.

Do tight hips make it hard to squat?

Yes, tight hips can make it hard to squat as they can limit your range of motion and lead to compensatory movements that can cause pain and discomfort in other areas. Proper warm-up and stretching exercises targeted at the hip flexors and other muscles surrounding the hips can help alleviate tension and improve flexibility, making it easier to perform squats with good form.

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