Snapping hip syndrome


  1. Affected areas
  2. Causes
  3. Therapeutic options


Snapping hip syndrome is a state in which there are symptoms of snapping or popping in the hips when walking, getting up off a chair or straightening the legs. These symptoms occur when there is too much tension in the muscles and tendons, which directly causes the elements of soft tissues to move over the bone structures in the hip.


Affected areas

Snapping hip syndrome can be located in different areas of the hip joint, where the muscle tendons slide back and forth across the eminences of the thigh bone. Snapping hip syndrome most often occurs along the outer side of the joint, when the iliotibial band comes in close proximity to the thigh bone, called the greater trochanter. When the hip is straightened, the iliotibial band is behind the greater trochanter. When we bend the hip, the iliotibial band moves above the greater trochanter and even in front of it during longer movement.


The iliotibial band is always very tense, which is why snapping or popping sounds are heard when it moves directly over the greater trochanter of the thigh bone. If snapping hip syndrome lasts a long time or gets worse, this can lead to inflammation of the hip bursa.

The next muscle that can be associated with snapping hip syndrome is the rectus femoris muscle. When bending and straightening the hip, snapping and popping sounds can be caused by the tendons of the rectus femoris muscle moving directly over the head of the thigh bone. What is more, excessive tension of the iliopsoas can be the cause of snapping hip syndrome.



Snapping hip syndrome is usually the result of excessive pressure of the tense muscle and tendon structures surrounding the hip joint. People who practise a sport that involves repeatedly bending the hip are more likely to develop this kind of problem. The risk of developing this kind of problem is particularly high among dancers.


Therapeutic options

First of all it is worth making changes to your sporting discipline or exercises in order to avoid repeating hip movements, e.g. by shortening the time spent on a bike or swimming mainly using your arms. If the pain doesn't go away after applying these conservative methods, I recommend a consultation with a physiotherapist or doctor.

Treatment often involves rest and changes in activeness. Depending on the cause of the snapping hip syndrome, conservative treatment methods may be recommended. Stretching and strengthening exercises of the muscles around the hip are a key element of therapy for snapping hip syndrome.


Stretching the iliotibial band on the right hand side:

  • Stand next to the wall.
  • Cross your legs, standing with your right side to the wall and put your right leg behind your left leg.
  • Turn your hips toward the wall until you feel tension on the outer side of the right hip.
  • Hold that position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat it for the other side.
  • Do 2 or 3 sets, with 4 repetitions for each side.


Stretching the piriformis muscle on the right hand side:

  • Lie on your back, bend your legs and put your feet flat on the floor.
  • Put your right foot on your left knee and grab hold of your left thigh.
  • Pull your left thigh towards yourself until you feel tension around the hip and buttocks.
  • Hold that position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat it for the other side.
  • Do 2 or 3 sets, with 4 repetitions for each side.


dr Jan Paradowski ©
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