If you are a healthcare provider, at some point in your career a patient or client has most likely mentioned having "snapping hip syndrome". This so-called syndrome can be very common among female athletes. Today's blog will focus on dancers, but the basics can be applied to any sport!
Growing up in the competitive dance world was never easy, especially when it came to conditioning. As you get older you are expected to take stretch and strengthening classes that are meant to help develop your technique as a dancer. These classes tend to focus on crunches, legs lifts and to be honest, exercises that aren't ideal for a developing spine and body.
It was probably around my teenage years that I started to develop my own case of "snapping hip syndrome". I would experience a big POP every time I would do supine leg lifts or mountain climbers. It wasn't necessarily painful, but it was loud and weird to say the least. Shortly after, my younger sister began experiencing the same thing. To be honest, in the dance world this is NORMAL and no one thinks twice about it.
Push forward a bit and I am in chiropractic college learning all about the mechanics of the body. It turns out that "snapping hip syndrome" is NOT NORMAL at all. It is a means of your body telling you that there is clearly a muscle imbalance happening. As dancers, we do countless intricate movements daily - jumps, turns, floor work, kicks and back bends. In my opinion, back bends tend to be the culprit. They are a beautiful and wonderful movement to showcase flexibility and skill, however how are you getting yourself back upright? By using your core? Or by using your hip flexors, like Iliopsoas? The answer is your hip flexors because we NEVER learn how to actually activate and use our true core muscles. The constant repetitive motion of extension type movements cause the Iliopsoas to get very tight and shortened - this is what is causing that lovely snapping sound when you are doing any other exercise that should be true core dominate.
Teaching your athlete how to activate their true core is going to be extremely important. I usually being with a supine pelvic tilt and abdominal brace. This movement tends not to be very easy for most people. Once this movement is fluid and there is no shaking (which confirms core instability) we will progress to a dead bug and so on. Any core exercises should begin with a supine pelvic tilt to protect your spine and ease the stress on Iliopsoas. Treatment, such as deep tissue massage to the hip flexors and lumbar extensors, in addition to chiropractic manipulation to the lumbar spine and pelvis will also be beneficial for helping to correct muscle imbalance.
Take Home Message for the Athlete: Next time you do a supine leg lift, put your legs in the air, do a pelvic tilt and brace your abdomen and then perform the exercise. You will most likely notice discomfort and no snapping in the hips!
Take Home Message for the Dance Teacher: Progress your students into large extension exercises slowly. Be sure that they are capable of performing a solid abdominal brace before instructing them to hull themselves upright by stressing out Iliopsoas!
If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to call the office and ask for Dr. Sarah!
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