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Snapping Hip Syndrome

Have you ever felt a snapping feeling near the front of your hip? It is fairly common, and not necessarily something to be majorly concerned about. Although, if untreated it can very well contribute to further problems and symptoms.

So what is it?! The sound is usually a tendon that snaps over bone with certain movements. This condition is also called ‘dancer’s hip’ because of the repetitive hip movements they perform. To examine it further, we can classify the location of the snapping to either be internal or external.

Internal hip snapping occurs as the iliopsoas tendon snaps over bony prominences of the hip, where external hip snapping occurs as the iliotibial band (IT band) snaps over the greater trochanter of the femoral head (hip bone).

Why does the snapping occur? It is most commonly considered to be caused by an overuse activity, but it is also important to look at a person’s history and biomechanics. Muscles turn into tendons and then attach to bone. Excessive muscular tightness pulls at the bone attachment, and the tendon creates the “snap” with certain hip movement.

If it is truly due to overuse, then we need to look at making sure the proper muscles are being fired with whatever motion someone is doing. We need to make sure of proper core engagement as well as glut activation, otherwise the iliopsoas and IT band (TFL) will become overworked and compensate for weakness in other muscles.

The high majority of us sit too much these days, which naturally creates less engagement of our glutes and it also shortens and tightens the iliopsoas. As mentioned above, the shortened iliopsoas creates excessive pull on the bone, and the disengaged glut muscles create more load for IT band and iliopsoas with movement of the hip (snap!).

How can this be fixed?! We need to RELEASE these tight muscles that are actually creating this snap. A.R.T. Active Release Technique is performed in the office to assist in releasing or loosening the tight muscles involved. This is similar to what a foam roller would feel like on a trigger point. Most of us also need increased glut activation from excessive sitting. Many powerlifters even need activation of proper hip stabilizers. There are a variety of glut specific exercises to benefit this activation. Core stability should also be incorporated, as well as lightly adding resistance to the muscles involved to strengthen them.

Ryon Bosscher, DC


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