Hip Tendonitis

From the WebMD Archives

By Amy McGorry

Huey Lewis may have been right singing “It’s hip to be square,” but it’s not hip to be sore -- especially when you’re an athlete singing the blues with hip flexor tendonitis (iliopsoas tendonitis).

This painful hip condition can affect athletes who participate in sports like cycling, running, swimming, hockey and baseball. Spin classes, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts and activities involving kicking, squatting and jumping can also leave you at risk for this type of injury.

When Hip Tendonitis Is A Pain

The iliopsoas muscle flexes your hip, bends your trunk towards your thigh and rotates your thigh bone. It’s made up of two muscles -- the psoas and iliacus. These muscles run from the lower spine and pelvis, join together, then attach by a tendon to the upper thigh. This tendon can get irritated from overuse, muscle weakness and muscle tightness, causing tenderness and pain.

Athletes with iliopsoas tendonitis often complain of “clicking” in the hip and pain while running, walking or kicking. Even putting on socks can be painful!

Why You're Sidelined

The iliopsoas is a workaholic muscle. Throughout the day it's constantly called into play with forward motions like walking, running and lifting your legs. It also picks up the slack when weaker muscles can’t perform their movements effectively, which can overwork this muscle.

Let’s look at moving your leg out to the side where the glute medius muscle (on the side of your hip) is the primary mover. If the glute is weak, it can be sluggish, leaving the hip flexor to initiate the motion instead. The side-to-side movement in sports like hockey or tennis can irritate the hip flexor as it does extra work initiating that “leg out” movement -- work its coworker, the glute, should be doing.

How To Stay In The Game

The following tips and exercies may help keep hip flexor tendonitis from sidelining you:

  • Adjust your seat height so hips sit higher than knees to avoid “hip pinching”
  • Maintain a flexible, strong core and hips
  • Discuss proper form with your trainer to prevent muscle compensation
  • Strengthen the muscle in its lengthened and shortened state


Hip Flexor Stretch

  • Kneel on one knee, hip behind knee
  • Tuck tailbone underneath you
  • Keep back straight as you move your body forward
  • Stop when a stretch is felt in the upper thigh
  • Hold 30 seconds. Do two repetitions.

Hip Flexion All-Fours

  • Tie resistive tubing to a pole and the other end to ankle
  • On all fours, bring knee into chest
  • Keep back straight
  • Then return foot slowly to start position
  • Feel resistance both ways
  • Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg

Hip Extension

  • Lie with a fitness ball under your stomach
  • Squeeze buttock and lift leg up to trunk
  • Hold 3 seconds
  • Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg

Side-Lying Hip Abduction

  • Lie on side, stacking hips, back to a wall
  • Keep foot against wall while lifting leg up
  • Hold 3 seconds, then lower
  • Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg

Check with your physician prior to starting an exercise program. Remember: You may be sidelined... but not for long!

WebMD Feature from Turner Broadcasting System
© Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.


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