Understanding Hip Pain While Squatting: Causes & Solutions

Hip pain, particularly in the front of the hip, can be a frustrating and limiting issue for those who engage in activities like squatting. This pain can stem from various sources and understanding these causes is crucial for addressing and ultimately eliminating the discomfort. In this blog, we will explore the common reasons behind anterior hip pain during squats and provide several strategies to help alleviate it.

Common Causes of Anterior Hip Pain While Squatting

  1. Hip Flexor Strain The hip flexors, a group of muscles that includes the iliopsoas, sartorius, and rectus femoris, are responsible for lifting the thigh towards the torso. Overuse or sudden strain on these muscles during activities like squatting can lead to pain. This pain is often felt in the front of the hip and may worsen with activity.
  2. Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI) FAI occurs when there is abnormal contact between the femoral head and the acetabulum (the socket of the hip joint). This can lead to a pinching sensation and pain in the front of the hip, particularly during movements that involve deep hip flexion, such as squatting.
  3. Labral Tear The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds the acetabulum, providing stability and cushioning to the hip joint. A tear in the labrum can cause pain, clicking, or catching sensations in the hip. This pain often intensifies during activities that require hip flexion and rotation, including squats.
  4. Hip Flexor Tendonitis Tendonitis is the inflammation of a tendon. In the case of hip flexor tendonitis, the tendons of the hip flexors become irritated and inflamed, leading to pain at the front of the hip. This condition is often a result of repetitive stress from activities such as running or squatting.
  5. Osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect the hip joint. It leads to the breakdown of cartilage, resulting in pain and stiffness. Squatting can exacerbate the symptoms due to the increased load and range of motion required in the hip joint.
  6. Snapping Hip Syndrome This condition is characterized by a snapping sensation in the hip, which can be accompanied by pain. It is often caused by the iliotibial band or the hip flexor tendon snapping over bony structures in the hip during movement.

Strategies to Eliminate Hip Pain While Squatting

  1. Proper Warm-Up and Stretching
    • Dynamic Warm-Up: Engage in activities that increase blood flow to the hip area, such as light jogging or cycling, followed by dynamic stretches like leg swings.
    • Hip Flexor Stretch: Perform stretches specifically targeting the hip flexors to increase flexibility. The kneeling hip flexor stretch is effective: kneel on one knee, with the other foot in front, and gently push your hips forward until a stretch is felt in the front of the hip.
  2. Strengthening Exercises
    • Glute Activation: Strengthening the glute muscles can help take the load off the hip flexors. Exercises like glute bridges and clamshells are excellent for activating these muscles.
    • Core Stability: A strong core supports the hip and pelvis, reducing the risk of strain. Incorporate planks, side planks, and bird-dog exercises into your routine.
  3. Modify Squatting Technique
    • Adjust Stance Width: Experiment with different stances to find a position that reduces hip pain. A wider or narrower stance can alter the mechanics of the squat and alleviate pressure on the hip flexors.
    • Depth of Squat: Avoid squatting too deep if it exacerbates the pain. Gradually increase the depth as your hip flexibility and strength improve.
  4. Diaphragmatic Breathing and Proper Bracing Technique
    • Diaphragmatic Breathing: Proper breathing techniques can help stabilize the core and reduce unnecessary strain on the hip. Practice diaphragmatic breathing by inhaling deeply through the nose, allowing your diaphragm to expand and your belly to rise, then exhale fully. This helps engage the diaphragm and promotes better posture.
    • Proper Bracing Technique: Before squatting, take a deep diaphragmatic breath and brace your core as if preparing to take a punch. This bracing stabilizes the spine and pelvis, providing a solid foundation for the squat and reducing the risk of hip pain. Maintain this bracing throughout the movement.
  5. Foam Rolling and Massage
    • Foam Rolling: Regularly foam roll the hip flexors, quadriceps, and iliotibial band to release muscle tension and improve mobility.
    • Massage Therapy: Consider professional massage therapy to address tightness and trigger points in the hip region.
  6. Gradual Progression and Load Management
    • Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight and intensity of your squats to allow your muscles and joints to adapt. Avoid sudden increases in load, which can lead to strain and injury.
    • Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to pain signals and avoid pushing through severe discomfort. Rest and recovery are crucial for healing and preventing further injury.
  7. Consult a Healthcare Professional
    • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide personalized exercises and techniques to address specific causes of hip pain. They can also perform manual therapy to improve hip mobility.
    • Medical Evaluation: If hip pain persists despite following these strategies, seek a medical evaluation to rule out serious conditions such as labral tears or osteoarthritis.


Anterior hip pain during squatting can be a complex issue with multiple potential causes. By understanding these causes and implementing targeted strategies, you can alleviate pain and improve your squatting performance. Remember to prioritize proper warm-up, strengthening exercises, technique modifications, diaphragmatic breathing, and proper bracing. Additionally, incorporating foam rolling and professional guidance can further enhance your efforts to eliminate hip pain. Always listen to your body and seek medical advice if pain persists, ensuring a safe and effective approach to managing and overcoming hip discomfort.

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Charles Ferruzza

RX Physical Therapy

We help CrossFit Athletes, Barbell Athletes, and Active Adults Work Through Injuries Without Having To Skip Days In The Gym.