I’ve been a weight lifter now for just over 4 years and I absolutely love it.
Hi, my name is Troy. I haven’t always been as fit as I am today. Looking back 4 years ago, I was physically and mentally a completely different person.
I got bullied, looked down on, no one listened much to what I was saying, and I could never talk to girls.
I was a scrawny male but tall at 6ft 2in where I attracted attention because I was scrawny and tall.
I had a pale white complexion but well, there isn’t much sun in Mt.Washington, New Hampshire.
Then one day, when I couldn’t handle a nasty comment about me, from someone who didn’t even know me, I knew I had reached a pivotal mental and emotional moment in my life.
I knew I had to change my body!
But first I had to change my mindset to change my body image. And more for myself than anyone else.
Not even for the bullies that tormented me for so long.
If I didn’t, I was in danger of getting extremely angry and potentially hurting someone.
I didn’t ever want to do that.
I knew deep down, that I was a much better human being and started the very next day on a path to achieve a higher level of physical, emotional and even spiritual change to become a better man.
I joined a local gym and on the very first day, I walked in, then walked right out again.
I did this for an entire week. Walked in then out again!
On the 7th day, sweating profusely, heart racing, I managed to stay an entire hour and lift a few weights, or try to.
It wasn’t too hard to do when no one else is at the gym (3.30am) watching you.
But I started which was a huge milestone and confidence booster for someone like me.
Fast forward 4 years, (not the ridiculous 12 week programs that are all over the internet) and I am in the best shape and body condition.
It took a good 12 months for my body to effectively change and shape for long term physical and mental results.
I shed 45lb’s (almost 20kg) of body fat I didn’t even know I had under the baggy T-Shirts, and put on some serious muscle gains.
This is what I look like now. It’s not me but you get the idea.
I’m pretty proud of my 4 year physical and mental reinvention effort!
OK so all of this brings me to SQUATTING and the recent Hip Pain I was experiencing as a result.
I noticed also that when I went to check out threads on Reddit or in muscle and bodybuilding forums, there was so much in terms of what works for some lifters, would not work for others and vice versa.
So I decided to write about it with the help of a friend and explore this topic more in depth. I myself worked through the pain resulting from squatting and hip pain, so I really hope you get some real value from my observations when squatting with weights.
Hip Pain When Squatting
What Are the Causes of Hip Pain while squatting?
What Are the Misconceptions?
And How Do We Fix It?
Walk in to any gym, whether it be commercial, Bodybuilding, Powerlifting or CrossFit centred. One issue seems to trump over all others, that is, hip pain during a squat. But why is this?
Most of you reading this will have heard the common causes, tight hip flexors, poor mobility and so on. However, it is difficult to find a suitable solution because of all of the contradicting information out there.
For example, a cross-fitter may tell you that your toes need to be pointing forward, feet shoulder width apart and your posture must be completely upright. Whereas a powerlifter who prefers a low-bar squat, will say it’s okay for your toes to be pointing out, a wider stance is acceptable and posture does not have to be completely upright.
This theme is seen in every camp of weightlifting, the argument will go on further about how to correctly perform different variants of squats.
This then raises the question, who is actually right?
Well, it depends on how open-minded you are and how you want look at it. All the information can be confusing, meaning it can be difficult to find a solution that is best for you individually.
But let’s try and simplify the confusion…
We have a Cross Fit champion and a powerlifting champion, both have the heaviest squat in their respected fields of weightlifting. Now imagine putting these two in a room together, then tell them to discuss squatting techniques.
We can safely say in this scenario; absolute chaos would erupt.
The Cross Fit champion swears by toes pointing forward and a narrow stance, but the powerlifting champion says toes can point out and the stance can be wide due to different Q-angles and femur lengths. Then if you ask the public who is right, they will back the side they are a part off.
But who is right? Well, both of them… to an extent. But to really conclude the argument, a middle-ground will have to be met.
Now let’s look at it from a different perspective.
We have an average Cross Fit practitioner and an average powerlifter. Both suffer from hip pain during their squat and both follow the advice of the champions.
The average cross-fitter is trying to fix the pain by using common cross fit techniques. But one day he tries a powerlifting technique, he goes a bit wider and points his toes out, then the hip pain is gone. So, is the Powerlifting champion, right?
But then the average powerlifter is trying to fix their hip pain, by using the powerlifting method. But one day, he tires using the cross fit technique. Then his hip pain is gone. So, is the cross fit champion, right?
This is what is meant in saying both them are right to an extent, it depends if the advice works for the individual.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution as everyone is built differently, which is why squatting techniques will vary.
Instead of looking for the one and only way of performing a squat, try to see the provided solutions as a collection of techniques to try and fix hip pain, not the technique that is better than all the others.
Furthermore, squatting is a complicated exercise. It is more than just a lower-body movement, arguably it is a complex full body exercise. But one thing can be agreed upon, we are all built differently.
For example, you wouldn’t tell a 5-foot person they are unable to slam dunk in basketball like LeBron James (6 foot 8), due to a poor jumping technique.
They are unable to do it because of the way their body is built. So maybe it is a bit unfair to say someone is squatting incorrectly, as they cannot squat in what is perceived as the correct way because their body is not built for it.
Now with all the confusion simplified let’s find some middle ground with a non-bias perspective.
Whether it be a low bar, high bar, goblet, front or sumo squat, then either a bodybuilder, powerlifter, cross-fitter, or an average gym-goer, there are solutions to stop hip pain. Yes, we all come from different camps, but this is a common problem, which has common solutions.
Hip pain is caused by muscular imbalances, which can be described as muscles tightening and weakening.
Muscular imbalances are caused by inactivity, inflexibility or overtraining of one body part. It is hard to squat under such conditions without a complication.
When squatting with muscular imbalances, the body will naturally compensate by using other muscles to help support itself.
For example, using the lower back to compensate for a weak core, or the heels coming off the ground to compensate for inflexibility.
These imbalances lead to hip pain, but it is not solely caused by having tight hip flexors which is a common diagnosis. It can also mean the hip flexors, hip abductors and hip adductors are being overworked.
It is best to fix these issues sooner rather than later, the longer you leave it, the harder it is to fix. This is why even years after stepping into a gym, hip pain still persists.
So, what can you do to fix the issue, without getting too confused with all the contradicting information? Well, here is a list just perfect for you.
Here are 8 things you can do to stop hip pain:
- Find a Stance That Works For YOU:
When squatting, your stance is your base and foundation, if this is incorrect, hip pain will be inevitable.
As everyone’s body is unique, it is hard to define the “best” stance. However, a starting point will be to have your legs slightly wider than shoulder width with toes slightly pointing out. But not so much that you are in a sumo stance, or too narrow that is hard to squat down fully.
From here, see if this works for you, if not slowly adjust and try different stances. You will know when you have found a good stance when you can keep your spine in a neutral position.
A neutral spinal position does not mean your chest is upright, but your spine is not bent.
It should be comfortable and you should be able to squat to at least parallel without your knees caving in. Most importantly, you should not be experiencing any pain, especially back and hip pain.
Having a correct stance will allow you to strengthen your hips and place them in a good position, which in turn will stop the pain.
- Correct Your Heel Positioning
A pain issue that we often see in squatting is heels lifting of the ground. Like a stance, heels are also a base. A wrong heel position can lead to poor form, as well as hip pain.
This means you may not get the full benefits of the exercise and even worse, exacerbating your hip pain.
It may seem a bit confusing as to why the heels move around. There are many causes, but it is mainly due to tight ankles, or weak surrounding muscles.
Both will go hand in hand, as weak muscles will cause the ankles to tighten. This is a sign of muscular imbalance which leads to hip pain.
The main fix: Wear suitable footwear, or wear none at all.
If you look around a gym, you will likely see people wearing a variety of different footwear, with some being more suitable than others.
But often, we see people wearing running shoes for squatting, which will have serious implications on the ability to attain correct form.
It is best to avoid footwear that has spongey soles, as they are best suited to absorb shock when running.
However, when squatting a spongey sole puts your heel in the wrong position. In order to perform correctly, the foot needs to be flat with a stable base.
It can be wise to invest in some suitable shoes such as weightlifting shoes, or even go barefoot.
Alternatively, you can take advantage by placing weight plates or a small block of wood underneath your heels.
Like wearing correct footwear, placing suitable objects underneath your heels can give the same benefits. Doing this stops your heels from lifting, as well as helping you to activate the right muscles.
With more muscle activated, you will be able to go lower.
However, this is not a permanent solution, it is not practical to forever squat with something underneath your heels.
But take advantage of it, as it strengthens the muscles and increases flexibility. When you feel ready, you can take away the plates or wood.
You should then notice how your heels are not coming off the ground anymore and hopefully, no more hip pain.
Of course, this is not the only solution to fix heels lifting of the ground, but this is exactly what point number 3 is for…
Stretching may sound obvious, and most of us do try. But this is a gentle reminder to make sure you do it. Stretching can ease the heel problem, as well as helping flexibility in other areas.
However, a common misconception is that endless stretching will fix all squat and hip pain issues. It helps a lot, but it is just a piece of the puzzle.
Many articles have been made about stretching, so we don’t need to go in depth on the 100s of positions to try, I am sure if you are reading this you know a few to do.
But one may really aid in increasing flexibility, it is a technique called a squat hold.
It is very simple to do, and it will strengthen as well as increase flexibility. It also trains your mind to muscle connection, which will help in activating the stubborn muscles.
Start by assuming a preferred squat stance, squat down as low as you feel comfortable with. Then either hold your arms out in front of you or in between your legs to push your knees to get more of a stretch.
Simply hold to this position, it may feel silly at first but after a while a burn will kick in. Holding the position a few times a week for a few minutes, can train your body to squat with a neutral spine, fix imbalances and alleviate hip pain.
- Improve Your Posture
Poor posture is a hidden cause of hip pain. Generally, most people suffer from a kyphotic curve, which is a bent upper back. This is caused by prolonged tightening of the pectorals and weakness in the upper back.
When this condition is transferred into a squat, it can lead to hip pain. It may seem strange that the upper body affects the lower body in such a way, but it does this due to the spinal chain running down from the neck to lower body.
We need to keep a neutral spine to perform a squat efficiently, this is near impossible with bad posture.
Leaning forward in a squat can place stress on the lower back as the core is not activated. As a result, stress gets placed on the hips as the glutes cannot activate and the problem runs all the way down your spine.
Correcting posture takes time, but it is necessary to stop hip pain.
Firstly, it is best to check if you are training your back adequately, it is important to strengthen the back muscles to improve posture.
Secondly, having a tight chest makes contributes to kyphosis, make sure to stretch your chest frequently and especially after a chest workout.
And lastly, but probably the most important. Start strengthening your core as a strong core is vital in maintaining good posture. With a kyphotic curve, the lower back is being overworked and the core gets weaker over time.
Take the time to activate your core during other exercises. It may sound obvious, but many of us forget to do it, especially as there is a lot involved in squatting or in any other exercise. Doing this is a great way to form a mind to muscle connection with your core, as well as increasing strength.
With time and patience, hip pain should subside.
A resistance band may seem flimsy, mainly as there is no weight involved. But using one, is actually one of the best ways to activate muscles that have problems firing in a squat, as well as helping the hips. It is literally a win-win.
To use one, place the band slightly above your knees. Then assume a squat stance and squat as normal, but make sure you push your knees out and don’t let the band cave in, as with any squat the knees shouldn’t cave in.
Doing this will help you maintain a neutral spine, as the correct muscles activate from the resistance of the band. You should feel your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, adductors and abductors activate.
The burn can be very intense initially, but like any exercise you have to work through it. If you want to reap the benefits of a resistance band, use it during your main squat. But beware, you may have to use a little less weight.
Your hip pain will not disappear instantly by using a band, but it will help your form by activating all the muscles.
Overtime, the muscles will strengthen and hip pain will subside.
- Hold the Bar or Weight Correctly
Don’t be afraid to get a little bit angry with the bar when squatting, as well as placing it correctly on your back. Failing to hold the bar tight in the correct place can lead to poor form and even injury due to increased spinal pressure.
Describing how to correctly hold the bar and weight in each variant of squat, will take another article in itself.
But in short, make sure you place the bar correctly on your back with a comfortable grip. Take the time to place your body centre to the middle of the bar.
If it’s a high bar, the bar should not rest on your neck and should roughly be in line with your collar bone.
Place your hands in a comfortable position, but slightly wider than shoulder width apart is a good starting point.
Also, make sure your elbows are underneath the bar and drive down to engage your Lats.
For a low bar, the bar should rest against your mid-traps below your rear deltoids, really pay attention to your grip to stop the bar from slipping.
A goblet squat is a lot simpler, but make sure you hold the weight tight to your chest. As for a front squat, place the bar on your collar bone and on your anterior deltoids.
Depending on your grip, cross your arms comfortably or place your hands underneath the bar.
….you can try a goblet squat using a kettle-bell.
Of course, these descriptions are brief, put the main point is to make you are aware of how important it is to correctly place the bar.
Doing this will put your upper body and spine in the correct position for squatting. Then by being in the correct position, less stress will be placed on the hips.
- Increase Shoulder Mobility
In some situations, there can be no strength or flexibility issues in the lower body, along with good upper body posture.
We’d think there would be no hip pain, right?
Well not exactly, there is one issue many people forget and are not even aware of. That is, shoulder mobility. This is seen in people who can do a good goblet squat or front squat.
But the moment it is time to get under the bar, everything goes wrong.
This is because having bad shoulders is very similar to having bad posture, the poor mobility causes the spine to not be in a neutral position.
The process of fixing this can take a while, but one solution may be changing the width of your grip. Try going narrower or wider and see if you are able to squat with a neutral spine.
If not, then a bit more work will have to be put in
A starting point will be to work on your rotator cuffs by doing external rotations with a light weight. Also, it will be good to do some rear deltoid work, as this part of the shoulder is generally underdeveloped.
But a key technique is myofascial realise, which is to increase mobility in the shoulder. Start by finding a small massage ball, alternatively, a golf or a lacrosse ball.
Place the ball on the wall, and then place your anterior deltoid on the ball. Start moving your shoulder up and down slowly, whilst applying some pressure from your bodyweight.
Soon, you will see that your shoulders will have increased mobility, allowing you to squat with a neutral spine.
Doing so, you should stop getting hip pain.
By far, this is the most important tip when it comes to squatting, without focus none of the other tips would even work…
As with any exercise, focusing is crucial, especially when a lot is involved like a squat. When you don’t focus on a bicep curl, the only real consequences are wasting your time. But with a squat many things can go wrong without focus.
Next time you squat, put yourself in the correct mindset. Squatting is not an easy exercise to perform, so being in a focused state of mind will allow you to have the correct form and lift heavier with no more hip pain.
More questions answered below about how to perform a squat
What Muscles Do Squats Use?
Doing squats is a great way to keep yourself strong. After all, they do a lot for you-help with waste removal, make your legs and booty strong, and overall keep your posture in good repair.
It’s important to understand what muscles these exercises work so that way, you can appreciate them and get excited when it’s time to actually do them!
1.The Gluteus Maximus
The squat is a compound movement and a full body exercise. The gluteus maximus is located at the back and is the muscle that connects all the parts of your coccyx, ilium, iliac crest and sacrum.
It holds together your pelvis down the bone of the thigh and the IT band, also known as the iliotibial band.
This is the largest gluteal muscle. It assists in doing hip extensions and works alongside your hamstrings.
When you squat, your gluteus maximus will contract during the motion of the squat which will help build your strength and stability in the long run,
2. Erector Spinae
The squat is also good for your back, which is amazing. The reason for this is that your spine will contract during the upward and downward part of this exercise move.
The erector spinae include the spinalis, the iliocostalis muscles that cover the entirety of your back and sides of your spine, and longissimus.
Squats got your back!
These consist of your rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis, and vastus lateralis. The quads are located around your knees and thighs.
They help in extending your knee during squats and is one of the primary muscles that will benefit from doing this exercise.
Squats are going to help you get stronger, leaner and bigger muscles around your lower body and the quad is one that will gain the most.
These muscles are big and building them will help you burn more calories, which is great for making sure you stay fit and toned as the years go on.
Known scientifically as the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and the bicep femoris, they make up the three major muscles of the hamstrings. T
hey are also the muscles that will get a great deal of the activity during the performance of squats and consequently will get a bulk of the benefits, too!
Remember, these work side by side with your gluteus maximus during the squat exercise. It helps in extending the legs during the up and down movements.
Doing the Right Thing
If you are going to do a squat, make sure you know how to do it properly and with correct form.
Follow these tips for good results!
- Do not arch your back or curve it during the squat. Keep the head up and look forward.
- Go for a sitting posture-do not let the knees extend past the feet.
- Go low until the thighs are parallel to the floor. Get as low as you can until you feel the burn in your thigh. This means you’re doing it correctly.
- Add a kettlebell or dumbbell to your exercise for an even greater challenge.
What Are the Benefits of Squats?
Squats are pretty great for getting that booty nice and toned up. After all, some of us have some cool new jeans we want to wear and look good in, or maybe a cheeky bikini or other cute swimsuit we want to rock on the beach.
But there’s much more to enjoy about squats than how it makes you look.
Check out these other great squat benefits.
Builds Muscle Everywhere
We all know that squats build up those legs. Quads, hammies, and calves all end up looking good after we squat it out.
But did you know that squats create an anabolic environment, which promotes whole-body muscle growth?
It’s true. And when you do squats properly, at the right intensity, they trigger the release of testosterone and human growth hormone in the body.
This is ideal for muscle growth and also helps improve your muscle mass when you train other areas of your body-not just your legs.
All in all, they are great for upper and lower body strength!
Burns Up Fat
The easiest way to burn up calories is to gain more muscle. Every pound of muscle you have means your body will burn an additional 50 to 70 calories per day.
Gaining 10 LBS of muscle means you will burn an extra 500-700 more calories. So, do those squats-that way you can enjoy better calorie burn.
Keeps You Balanced
Strong legs are critical for staying mobile as we all get older. Squats are wonderful for increasing the strength in your legs.
They work the core, they stabilize muscles, and this helps you maintain balance while improving how your brain and muscle groups communicate.
In turn, this will help you prevent falls, which helps prevent all the bad things that come with falls-broken bones, extreme pain, and physical therapy.
Plus, you don’t have to swallow tons of calcium supplements.
Makes Life Easier
We all want ways to keep our lives going smoothly right? Well, functional exercises like squats can do just that.
Functional exercises are those that help your body to perform real life activities. Instead of operating a gym machine, you are training yourself to do better in real life.
Squats are super useful, as us humans have been doing it since the days we all had to hunt and gather up our food.
You do squats, and in turn, you build muscle and help these muscles perform more efficiently. On top of all this, you promote mobility and balance.
This translates to an easier time when you need to squat down for a low item at the grocery store or to retrieve a dropped item.
Help with Waste Removal
Got to go? Well, do some squats! This exercise improves the circulation of body fluids, which helps in the removal of waste and the delivery of nutrients to all your tissues, including the glands and organs. They are great for the removal of feces through the colon, and help you have more regular bowel movements.
Are There Squats for Women?
To answer the question quickly and simply, no. Squats are the same no matter if you are a man or a woman. They do the same thing for men and women-help build up leg muscles and tone the booty so that you look really good when you finally put on that new pair of jeans you bought!
That being said, there are some great exercises women can do to make their squat experience more fun.
Get a kettlebell, one that presents you with a challenge to hold but not too much of a challenge to the point of being uncomfortable. Hold the kettlebell in front of your chest and squat all the way down, then come back up. That’s one rep. Try to do 3 sets of 15 for a challenge. If this is too much, you can do a motion where instead of coming all the way down, you just go till your knees are 90 degrees.
Try this squat to really build up the booty. Point your toes outward and spread the legs apart. Your knees will face outward instead of facing the front. You will look like a ballerina doing a plie. This will make your inner thighs nice and toned, and you can add a kettlebell or even a dumbbell for more of a challenge. Try 3 sets of 15.
Get one of those barbells from the weights area of your gym. Balance the barbell on your shoulders behind the head so that it is comfortable. You may need some padding, so it is bearable. Now squat down. Try to do 3 sets of 10.
No need to hold weights here, unless you really want a challenge. Simply do a regular squat as you would with no weights, but then jump up at the end instead of just coming up. The explosive movement is a fun and rewarding challenge.
We hope you found this Hip Pain when squatting post useful in your endeavors to relieve yourself of any pain you maybe experiencing.
If you have any questions, please leave us a comment below.