View Full Version : Can squats injure a hip flexor??

Arturo Garcia
05-20-2010, 07:52 AM
Ok, this is actually a serious question. I tried searching but couldn't quite find an answer.

Some history: about a year ago or so, I decided to go on a glute-strengthening phase for a few weeks (article from T-nation) and I got pain in both my hip flexors, right under the hip bone that sticks out. If you see the picture here: http://exrx.net/Muscles/Iliopsoas.html (WFS) to the left of the number "1" in the picture, the end of that bone tip, if I put my finger right under that bone it hurt. I remember back then I was foam rolling, stretching those hip flexors, and doing glute stuff like bridges and lunges.

About 4 months ago I took on another glute program, lol. Again, foam roller and hip flexor stretching was done every single day before even getting to the glute drills. I don't know why or how, but I again got this pain. I don't remember now if it was in both sides or not. I remember that back then it only hurt in two different actions: putting my finger right in there under the bone, and also when I stretched the hip flexor (doing the kneeling hip flexor stretch) of the opposite leg (meaning, it hurt on the leg that was flexed, not the one I was stretching). At this time I wasn't doing squats or deads.

Well, I am now doing SS and I got this again after friday of week 3 or so. I don't know if it's coincidence or what, but that friday I played some Hula Hoop in a Wii at a friend's house, after that I've had this pain. I worked out all 3 times last week but was very aware of this pain. I feel it quite a bit on squats. I am still ocasionally foam rolling and I stretch those hip flexors before EVERY session, doing the kneeling stretch where the back leg also has the foot up in a chair. And remember that up until very recently I went on a period of about 6 weeks where I did foam rollers, stretching and glute drills DAILY. Yes, every day, extensive rolling, a lot of stretching, and then the glute drills. That required a crapton of discipline because it was so boring but I did it, thinking it'd help.

Well, I'm rather angry now. My question is not even how to heal it, as I reckon rest, massage, and the usual things would be recommended. My question is WHY am I getting this? Right now it really hurts on my left leg, which is my stronger leg (stronger glute, judging by performance in drills, stronger VMO as it's bigger, and even my foot is stronger on this side as I have better balance and everything). Right now tt hurts if I raise my left knee from a standing possition. I haven't worked out since monday. I just did some air squats and it doesn't hurt with them, but I don't know about weighed squats, they triggered the pain quite well on monday.

If anyone has any clue of what this could mean, and how to avoid it, I would be in debt with you for life. I'm that desperate. I have enough imbalances/injuries already.

Jamie J. Skibicki
05-20-2010, 07:59 AM

Can you send in a video of your squats? Typically hip flexor pain is caused by knees sliding forward.

Michael Dries
05-20-2010, 08:07 AM
Similar issues with me. I gave my hips a good 8 weeks off and it helped.

Got back to SS and no problems. Did a wod with air squats and I noticed my knees caving in (I wasn't focusing very well on driving the knees out). My hip was LIT UP for the next 48 hours.

A big issue for me was not wearing my orthodics during that wod, my knees pretty much just caved in and causes a bunch of impingement issues. This isn't an issue with my do-wins and 3x5 squats because I'm able to focus hard on driving the knees out. This was a fast and furious wod and I let my form go to hell.

Do some testing and see how your hip feels with different toe out positions.

Arturo Garcia
05-20-2010, 08:25 AM
Jamie, I can, although I'm not proud of them. I look ridiculous and my form sucks. Monday I had the idea of filming the second set from an angle, and the third from the side as I always do, so I just uploaded both of them.

In the past, I think I got this pain without even doing squats, at least weighed ones, so I don't know if they're the cause. Maybe I feel it when doing them but maybe something else is causing it.

Either way, here's two very ugly videos of the second and third set of 215x5. This was monday of week 5 of SS, I started at 155 going up 5 per session. This weight was indeed a PR for me. I think my right leg wants to cave in more than the left (my foot is also flatter on the right leg) but the pain is bad under the left hip flexor bone.

WFS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKsuUPlR6ng
WFS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot-n4eqQpe8

Arturo Garcia
05-20-2010, 01:11 PM
Ok, using google I found this: WFS: http://stronglifts.com/forum/strange-hip-pain-during-squats-t10343.html

It appears to be an issue of letting the knees buckle in !!! What is weird is that I think my right one goes in more but the big pain is in the left side. But this makes sense. In my original post I mentioned that I could feel the pain when stretching the opposite hip flexor (so I'd feel the pain in the knee that's right in front of me during that stretch), and I distinctly remember that what helped me to keep doing that stretch and not feel pain was to push that knee outwards as much as I could !!! So this makes a lot of sense. I just can't let them go in, like I've been obviously doing since they got heavy for me.

I think my stance might be too wide for me. Maybe someone can watch the two links I provided and comment on that? I think I will have to come back with reduced weight and a narrower stance and really do the squat while only thinking "knees out", LOL. If this bloody pain is still not better tomorrow I might have to skip tomorrow's session too... two sessions in a row, now that sucks a lot!! (I injured a knuckle so I have double reason to rest some more.. but I don't want to!!!). :mad:

Steven Low
05-20-2010, 01:49 PM
Stance seems OK.

Knee does come in enough but probably not giving you as many symptoms are you are describing. This will still need to be fixed though.

I think it's likely some overuse.

Take a break from soft tissue work and stretching for a 4-5 days. If you're doing it everyday and it's a bit overuse in that area then you're not allowing for it to heal and keep putting the hurt on it.

Jamie J. Skibicki
05-20-2010, 02:02 PM

It's not the caving in that worries me, its the movement forward. They move forward through almost the entire set, but again not dramatically. Focus on moving the knees only through the first 1/3 of the motion, but I think there is something else going on as well.

Arturo Garcia
05-20-2010, 02:15 PM
Jamie, I knew I had read somewhere that the back angle in the squat was assumed during the first 1/3 of the descent, but the knee's travel as well ? I really thought that as long as they don't go too forward, regardless if they get there at the start or at the finish of the descent, it was OK. And they don't seem to go much over the toes now, do they? I was under the impression that, depending on limb length, from from 1 to 4 inches of over-the-toes travel was normal? Also, they don't go any more forward as I reverse directions and begin the ascent, which I thought also meant it was OK? (I could be wrong about this too).

Jamie, I have read that one should start the squat by pushing the hips back SO many times, that I find it hard to also move those knees forward at the same time, and from the videos of me it does seem as if I'm trying not to let the knees go forward at all (although they obviously go some).

Steven, ARGH, I did foam roll yesterday but didn't stretch. I'm starting to think about taking tomorrow off as well, coming back on monday with reduced weight trying to focus on form. This is a very awful decision as I was just starting to set new PR's in that last session, but on the other hand I think pushing through the pain wont be good in the long run.

Jamie J. Skibicki
05-20-2010, 02:25 PM
A squat should start with a hip and knee break. WHen you are first learning most people want to break with just the knees or with the knees much more so coaches will cue with "hips back"

Steven Low
05-20-2010, 03:01 PM
I do agree there is a bit too much knees forwards, but it's not so much that it should be giving him hip issues (although front squat does extensively use hip flexors).

Still, it needs to be cleaned up like the knees as well.

Also, what's going on with meatfest?

Arturo Garcia
05-21-2010, 01:06 PM
This guy, I think, had exactly my problem, but I don't know how he solved it since he didn't get many answers. WFS: http://board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=26553

I don't know how it can be "overuse" Steven, seriously. I had been rolling/stretching and doing glute drills for several weeks, daily, PRIOR to starting SS. After starting SS (at which point I had no pain in there), I have barely used my hips I'd say. Maybe a set of hanging leg raises at the end of the workout, but that never seemed to bother me. Pain started on 3rd workout of 3rd week, maybe because it started getting heavy for me?? I just never thought the front of the hips were at any risk during a back squat.

Today it still hurts. When I lay in bed it even hurts a bit to raise the leg to get out of bed... so I think I will, sadly, take today off too (might also be a good idea to let an injured knuckle heal more as well). Hopefully I will be back at it monday. I must admit I started SS at 155 on the squats on the reasoning that I did 185x5x3 a week before starting, so 155 with just 5# increments seemed enough. I think on monday I will start with the empty bar and add weight till speed slows down like the book recommends. Sucks to backtrack like this. I will keep in mind the "knees out" cue even more, I'll have my wife yelling at me to keep them out if necessary, lol.

Arturo Garcia
05-21-2010, 01:29 PM
It also hurts kinda laterally. I think I might need to do some more hip mobilty before the workouts. I do some full body mobility before each workout but I'll do some more hip drills, I've just found an "Agile 8" list by DeFranco which seems to work wonders for hip mobility according to testimonials, so I'll give it a shot. I just hope it heals quickly. :(

Steven Low
05-22-2010, 12:28 PM
Stretching a muscle extensively also uses it. It's eccentric damage to the muscle.

Hence why I suggested you take off and see if it normalizes. There's no reason NOT to rest as resting won't hurt. But if you keep stretching an overused muscle you can keep doing damage to it....

This is also why you don't stretch strained muscles.

Arturo Garcia
05-22-2010, 02:09 PM
I am ashamed to admit I didn't know that. Stretching it definitely hurts. It's getting better though, yesterday the pain was it's highest but it seems to be reducing now. Maybe I ought to take it easy on the stretching when I come back.

Steven Low
05-23-2010, 12:07 PM
Yeah, most people don't know that.

When in recover from a strained or overused muscle you definitely want to take it to the edge of your ROM so it doesn't tighten back up....

but you definitely do NOT want to be stretching it to try to gain ROM. That's going to negatively affect your recovery.

Not saying this is necessarily the case here, but I do think that it may be part of the problem.

Arturo Garcia
06-02-2010, 11:42 AM
I didn't perform a squat (or anything, for that matter) for a full two weeks and it's still not healed. It's better, but not healed.

I really would like to find out what caused this. Someone suggested it's because I'm squatting with my legs and not my hips - see my squat videos, when I reach the bottom my knees aren't that far forward, they're right over the toes, but the "problem" seems to be that I begin the ascent by moving the knees back, so the muscles responsible of knee extension are doing most of the work. I'm told that the knees must remain in the same place in space, even if they're extending.

This is awful and I can't keep resting, so I picked a routine with no squats. Yes, you heard it right, no squats... this goes against everything I previously believed in, since I've always heard that "a routine without squats is flawed at best". Well, at least I'll be doing deadlifts and unilateral movements and other posterior chain work, just not squats. Sucks. :(

Steven Low
06-03-2010, 01:29 PM
What did you do during all of the time you were "resting"?

Stretching? Any activity? etc.