Hip impingement, also known as femoral acetabular impingement, can be present with or without a labral tear. Most individuals who suffer from hip impingement complain of pain with squatting, lunging, running, and sitting. The most common area of complaint is in the front of the hip and thigh. Sometimes this can be misdiagnosed as a hip flexor strain or tendinitis due to the origin of pain. Most individuals will complain of the hip pinching at end range flexion (i.e. marching), intermittent referral into the quadriceps, sharp pain with planting and twisting on the hip, occasional catching or popping, and often a deep ache in the joint.
Structurally what happens with hip impingement is the femoral head (also known as the ball of the femur) pinches up when moving in the acetabulum (also known as the cup or socket where the ball sits inside). This can lead to degenerative labral tearing. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the outside rim of the cup of the hip joint socket/acetabulum. Over time the pinching of these two bones with or without labral tearing can cause arthritis or a deformity of the shape of the bony part of the ball of the femur. Ultimately this leads to stiffness. To assist in the stiffness and prevent labral tearing and bony deformity, the hip must relearn how to move properly within the pelvis to eliminate the pinching.
There are some great stretches to assist in opening of the hip to decrease the pinching of the ball and socket. You must be careful not to overdo stretching as this can lead to more compression of the joint if forcing end range to pain. It is important to focus on stretching the hip internal rotators and the posterior capsule or back part of the hip joint. We want to avoid any pain or pinch in the front of the hip when performing these stretches below.
Watch Abby’s YouTube Video on her 3 favorite stretches to limit hip pain secondary to hip impingement.