What is Snapping Hip Syndrome?

Snapping hip syndrome refers to the medical condition where there is a noticeable clicking, snapping, popping sensations and sounds of the hip while in movement. This most often occurs when one of the surrounding ligaments, through repetitive movement, gets caught on the articulation of the hip. Although it’s typically a minor annoyance, it can also lead to inflammation and pain.


How Does This Happen?

Anatomy of the Hip

The hip joint, of the weight-bearing ball and socket variety, is responsible for the hinging and extension movements of the upper portion of the leg. It is comprised of the thigh bone (femur) and the pelvic socket (acetabulum), which create a bony articulation at the point where the two join together. Extending downwards from the femur, is a knob-like protrusion, the greater trochanter, which is the insertion site for several muscles and tendons (most notably the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus) between the butt, hip, and leg areas.

In addition to the joint, the hip area is surrounded by synovial fluid (for cushioning and the gentle gliding of joints), ligaments, and muscles, such as the tensor fascia latae (TFL) and iliotibial (IT) bands. More specifically, the TFL is a muscle located at the front of the hip with a connected tendon, the IT band, that branches out to the thigh and down to the knee. It acts like a stretchy rubber band to help flex and retract the joint.

How Does This Apply?

The most common form of snapping hip syndrome occurs when either the IT band, TFL band, or one of the glutes gets caught on the greater trochanter while in flexion and extension (simply put, movement). This creates tension and the resulting click/popping/snapping sensation is a “release”.

The prime culprit for this is tight and overactive hip flexors due to overuse, dominant quads, and sitting too much.


Signs of Snapping Hip Syndrome

  • Clicking/popping/snapping sensation and sound in and around the hip area.
  • Inflammation and pain in and around the hips
  • Limited range of motion – difficulty with climbing up stairs, leg lifts
  • Sensation that the hip joint may come out of the socket

How Do You Fix It?

To address snapping hip syndrome (extra-articular), it’s important to focus on loosening the hip flexors and improving the range of motion. We recommend the following exercise:

  • Inhibit – Bicep Femoris-Lateral Hamstring and TFL
  • Activate – medial hamstrings
  • Integrate – laying prone single leg hip extension with adduction
  • Strengthen- single leg balance with contralateral leg abduction