Why Your Hips Pinch During Squatting (Part 2 of 3)

“Every time I squat deep or heavy, I get pinching in the front of my hips or groin...why is that?”

“Every time I squat deep or heavy, I get pinching in the front of my hips or groin...why is that?”

Last week, we discussed the initial and most undervalued reason why individuals get pinching in their hips with squatting.  We chalked it up to not necessarily that our hips aren’t mobile or flexible enough, but that the hip flexors actually aren’t strong enough at that end-range of motion. We offered solutions to that potential problem.  If you want to review or didn’t get to read that article, you can find it here (click).

In part 2 of this series, we’re going to discuss another key reason of why our hips pinch with deep squatting that has nothing to do with our hips...OUR ANKLES.

Ankle mobility and stable feet are key components to a healthy, deep, and/or loaded squat because they are obviously our only connection to the ground.  The ankle is designed to be a relatively mobile structure so that that initial connection point can give feedback to the rest of our body on proprioception, awareness of the space around us, and a point of control to anchor into the ground.

If that initial “hinge” spot that is so closely related to the reaction with the ground is faulty, immobile, or painful, then all of the joints up the chain throughout the rest of the body may also have to alter their optimal course of movement.  In laymen’s terms, if the ankle is shotty, so will be the body.  (Yeah, I came up with that)

So, let’s say the ankle is supposed to move a certain amount for a given individual at the depth of the squat.  And one day this individual wakes up and has half of the normal mobility at his or her ankles than they should.  But he or she still wants to squat a full depth.  Now the compensation and motion has to come from somewhere else.  In many cases, it will be asked of the hips to flex more (or the trunk to flex more depending on how you look at it).  

Hence, with a greater (or earlier than usual) demand on the hip movement required, especially into flexion, now we have increased stresses into the hip joint itself and the potential for that “pinching” sensation to occur.

So, we need to change the ability of the ankle to optimally move to take some stress off of the hip joint.  Does that make sense?  Want to learn how?

The following assessment is a quick and easy but general way to test if your ankle has the minimum appropriate amount of ankle motion for squatting efficiently.  Even if you’re not getting pinching, this test can be useful for you to determine ankle mobility limitations.  


If you find that this test is challenging, you feel some restriction or tightness somewhere, or you really have to compensate how your body moves to obtain it, then the following 3 ankle mobility drills may be perfect for you to address the hip “pinching” that is likely coming from your ankles.



Again, these are great for ankle mobility even if you don’t have pinching in the hips and are still usable for benefit beyond deep squatting.

If you’ve tried the hip flexor and hip control drills from the last post and haven’t noticed any changes, never fear, continue to work on them, but you may need to look at the ankles and outside of the painful location as well for results.  This might be just for you.

Stay in the gym my friends,

Dr. Eric Wallace, PT, TPI Medical Certified, Cert. Dry Needling


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