What is Snapping Hip Syndrome?
This type of condition includes hearing a snapping sound or a feeling of snapping sensation in your hip, especially when you run, walk or get up from a chair or when you are laying on your back and stretch your leg out.
For many people this condition is nothing more than a torment and the only symptom is the snapping sound/sensation, but for athletes or dancers this, also called dancing hip, includes pain and weakness because it is caused by the movement of a muscle or ligament over a bony structure in the hip.
Although a painless snapping hip is not something to worry about, it can be a tell tale sign that the core muscles are not functioning properly and the hip muscles take over.
What causes the hip to snap?
The most common area where this problem can occur is the outside part of the hip. Here you have a group of connective tissue, the Iliotibial group, and it goes across the part of the hip that sticks out, known as the greater trochanter.
The problem basically occurs when you bend your hip, because while you are standing the tissue group is located behind the trochanter, but when you bend the hip, the group moves and slides over the trochanter and makes that snapping noise.
There is also one more reason for the snapping hip. When the core muscles do not function properly –their main job is to stabilize the spine- the iliopsoas muscle take over this function and tries to stabilize the spine.
Because of this extra workload, the muscles has to become stronger i.e. bigger, and starts rubbing over the greater trochanter, creating the snapping sensation. The problem is that these muscles also connect to the lower two vertebrae of your spine, pulling them out of alignment, causing back pain.
So, although a snapping hip itself is not something to worry about, it can be a sign of weakness of the core muscles, which in turn can lead to back pain.
How to treat this problem
The best exercises and stretches to help are:
Stretch the iliopsoas muscle as shown on the picture on the left (stretching the muscle on the back leg).
Check for weaknesses in your core muscles and strengthen them if needed.
And of course, be sure to get your spine checked! Imbalances in your spine can put pressure on your nerves that upsets your hips.