What You Can Do For A Snapping Hip

The 3 Best Exercises For Relief

Snapping Hip Syndrome

A snapping sound anywhere in your body can be quite disconcerting, can’t it? “What could possibly be causing that sound?” you wonder. “Will it ever go away?” Snapping in the hip is a common issue that, fortunately, can be helped. Here we’ll cover the basics of who is affected by a snapping hip, what causes the snapping sounds, and what you can do to help…

Sometimes Snapping Hips Hurt, Sometimes They Don’t

That’s right – most people with snapping hip sounds don’t have any associated pain. Pain-free snapping in the hips is common, affecting 5–10% of the general population1, believe it or not.

These percentages increase in people who participate in sports or activities that require more extreme motions of the hips, such as:

  • Ballet dancers
  • Soccer players
  • Weight lifters
  • Cyclists
  • Runners2,3.

In fact, a recent survey reveals snapping of the hip in 90% of elite ballet dancers4. It’s usually in these types of populations that the snapping can become painful and limiting.


What Is It That’s Actually Snapping In Your Hip?

Well, it depends…

Is the snapping on the outside of your hip? This usually is the result of your IT-band moving over your hip bone5 as you move your leg forward and back 6.

If snapping is in the front of your hip, it could be coming from movement of a hip flexor muscle or tendon (Iliopsoas) over the pelvis 7,8,9,10.

It should be noted – there’s also the possibility that snapping, popping, or clicking could be associated with a hip labral tear11. If this is the case, you’re more likely to have additional symptoms like catching, locking, or a sharp stabbing sensation12. If these symptoms sound familiar, here is more information regarding hip labral tears.


What You Can Do To Help

Good news: 2/3 of people with painful snapping hip improve with conservative treatment 13 – this is why, even in athletes14, conservative treatment is the standard.

First thing’s first – resting and avoiding activities that lead to painful snapping might be necessary to initiate the healing process. This often results in a major reduction of symptoms15.

But this doesn’t guarantee that the problem won’t come back once you resume your activity. For help here, we must address the hip muscles themselves – gradually loading and progressively strengthening them 16.

1. Active Range of Motion for the Hip Flexors – Gradual Loading


2. Progressive Hip Flexor Strengthening



Another important area to strengthen is the hip abductors, which have been shown to be weak in people with a symptomatic snapping hip17.

3. Hip Abductor Strengthening


Question: What activities have you found that lead to snapping in the hip? What helps? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

  1. Byrd JW. Snapping hip. Oper Tech Sports Med. 2005;13:46–54.  ↩
  2. Teitz CC, Garrett WE, Miniaci A, et al. Tendon problems in athletic individuals. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1997;79:138–152.  ↩
  3. Gruen GS, Scioscia TN, Lowenstein JE. The surgical treatment of internal snapping hip. Am J Sports Med. 2002;30(4):607–613.  ↩
  4. Winston P, Awan R, Cassidy JD, Bleakney RK. Clinical examination and ultrasound of self reported snapping hip syndrome in elite ballet dancers. Am J Sports Med. 2007;35(1):118–126.  ↩
  5. Pelsser V, Cardinal E, Hobden R, Aubin B, Lafortune M. Extraarticular snapping hip: sonographic findings. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2001;176(1):67–73.  ↩
  6. Allen WC, Cope R. Coxa saltans: the snapping hip revisited. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 1995;3:303–308.  ↩
  7. Deslandes M, Guillin R, Cardinal E, Hobden R, Bureau NJ. The snapping iliopsoas tendon: new mechanisms using dynamic sonography. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2008;190(3):576–581.  ↩
  8. Beals RK. Painful snapping hip in young adults. West J Med. 1993;159(4):481–482.  ↩
  9. Byrd JW. Snapping hip. Oper Tech Sports Med. 2005;13:46–54.  ↩
  10. Schaberg JE, et al. The snapping hip syndrome. Am J Sports Med. 1984;12(5):361–365.  ↩
  11. Byrd JW. Labral lesions: an elusive source of hip pain case reports and literature review. Arthroscopy. 1996;12(5):603–612.  ↩
  12. Byrd JW. Snapping hip. Oper Tech Sports Med. 2005;13:46–54.  ↩
  13. Adler RS, Buly R, Ambrose R, Sculco T. Diagnostic and therapeutic use of sonography-guided iliopsoas injections. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2005;185(4):940–943.  ↩
  14. Adkins SBI, Figler RA. Hip pain in athletes. Am Fam Physician. 2000;61:2109.  ↩
  15. Wahl CJ, et al. Internal coxa saltans (snapping hip) as a result of overtraining: A reports of 3 cases in professional athletes with a review of causes and the role of ultrasound in early diagnosis and management. Am J Sports Med. 2004;32(5):1302–1309.  ↩
  16. Beals RK. Painful snapping hip in young adults. West J Med. 1993;159(4):481–482.  ↩
  17. Jacobsen JS, et al. Eccentric hip abductor weakness in patients with symptomatic external snapping hip. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. 2012;22(6):e140-e146.  ↩
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