My Hip Clicks/Pops When I Do Sit-Ups & Ab Exercises. Should I Be Worried? Can I Fix This?

Whether you are getting ready for beach season, sitting up on the couch, or simply bending over to tie your shoes, your core comes into play. Contrary to popular belief, the core doesn’t just include the abdominal muscles! It also consists of muscles in your back, pelvis and surrounding area.

You might hear a snap or pop coming from your hip while performing core related exercises, but no pain associated with it. This noise, formally known as crepitus may be more noticeable when you are doing one specific exercise like a sit-up, V-up, or crunch.

Does this mean there’s something seriously wrong? Or could this be completely normal and no cause for concern? I am going to answer this from a scientific perspective.

What Causes The Noise?

Assuming you are not experiencing any sharp or other nasty forms of pain from the exercise, crepitus in the hip is most likely due to a combination of two factors:

  1. Muscle tightness or residual tissue damage that is pulling bones and joints out of optimal working position
  2. Poor form during exercise

Muscle tightness and stiffness is very commonly found at the hip joint. Most moderns anatomists define 17 muscles associated with the hip and divide them into 4 groups according to their orientation and function.

Any one of these muscles is susceptible to tightness or stiffness due to under-use, or injury which may cause increased tension at the joint. This added tension pulls bones out of their optimal working position and leads to more aggressive contact between tendons and the bones they interact with.

Normally when joints move, tendons and bones make contact with each other but it isn’t loud enough to hear or feel. But in this case, instead of a love tap, you get a whip-like snap; and boy can it be loud!

Muscle imbalances and form issues often go hand in hand. Meaning that the reason your form isn’t good is because you’ve got muscle imbalances and vice versa. Each factor feeds off the other.

Is This Dangerous?

The noise you’re experiencing may be super annoying and perhaps even troubling; but I wouldn’t call it dangerous. You’re not going to lose muscle or severely hurt yourself directly from the noise. That being said, I highly recommend doing something about it. Especially now.

When you’re younger, your muscles are much more receptive to change. But as you age, this becomes more difficult; whether it be new form adjustments or adding supplemental exercises.

As the old saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Although you may not be an old dog yet, it won’t be long before you eventually get there…

Can I Fix This?

If you’re confident that form isn’t an issue, some mobility drills might make a big difference. Try the steps below:

  1. Start by doing the core exercise that causes the crepitus in the hip. Make some mental notes on how intense the noise sounded and felt.
  2. Perform some mobility and/or stretching of one of the following muscle groups (hip flexors, glutes, adductors, abductors, hip external rotators). I have some examples listed in the video listed above!
  3. Re-test the exercise and see if you notice a decrease or absence of noise. If you do, there’s a good chance that particular muscle group you just mobilized is part of the problem. If you don’t, try a different muscle group and re-test.

At the end of the day you’re essentially performing trial and error until you can identify one of the muscle groups responsible. Once you’ve done that, spend more time working on it and in turn you should see a much quieter hip!

Work With A Pro

At Stephen Fitness & Rehabilitation, we offer personal training and physiotherapy services specifically designed for individuals living in Oakville and London, Ontario experiencing crepitus.

Our mission is to improve the strength, mobility and independence of each and every client in a friendly, empathetic, and non intimidating atmosphere.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one become stronger more mobile and independent in the comfort of their own home!