Why Does My Hip Pop When I Do Sit-Ups?

Picture this: You're in the middle of a set of situps, getting in a great ab workout, and then you feel and hear a pop come from your hips. Not only does it sound concerning, but it feels like something moved in your hip. Often, this popping is just air releasing from the joint. However, there are four possible hip problems that could be causing that pop, some of which are worrisome and some that aren't.

Painless hip popping during exercise is common.
Image Credit: FatCamera/E+/GettyImages


Joint popping is common and can be caused by air releasing as you move. If it is accompanied by pain, it might be related to a medical condition or injury.

Hips Pop When Doing Abs

If your hips pop when doing abs, it could be from a condition called hip dysplasia. According to Washington University's Orthopedics Department, hip dysplasia is caused by a shallow hip socket. If your hip socket is shallow, it means that the head of your femur, the bone that attaches to the hip, is more likely to slip around in the joint and damage the rim of the hip socket. This can lead to pain, a popping sound, dislocation and even arthritis over time.

To diagnose hip dysplasia, a doctor will need to perform a physical examination and take X-rays. She may even need to take a magnetic resonance arththrogram (MRA) or computed tomography (CT) scan.

Hip dysplasia is usually corrected with surgery to the hip joint. It's important to note that hip dysplasia is usually diagnosed and treated in children, so it is rare that an adult suffers from this.

Hip Labral Tear

The labrum of your hip is a rim of soft tissue that deepens the groove that your femur sits in to make the hip more secure. Hip labral tears are tricky because you might not have any pain. You might simply feel a clicking or catching sensation. These tears are usually caused by too much strain on the hip from something like an intense sporting event.

Read more: Torn Hip Labrum Stretches

To find out if you have a hip labral tear, you will need an MRI. Treatment depends on the severity of the injury. Your doctor may suggest rest, therapy or surgery if you have this injury.

Femoral Acetabular Impingement

Femoral acetabular impingement, or FAI for short, is caused by either an abnormally shaped femoral head or an abnormally shaped hip socket. If either of these bones is misshapen, it will limit the motion of the hip joint and cause it to move around erratically. This problem is most common in athletes who are using their hip joint often and put a lot of pressure on it.

When the hip joint is moving around in a strange way, it causes pressure on other parts of the hip joint, specifically the labrum of the hip, according to the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia. Symptoms of FAI will begin with pain on the front of the groin, along with a popping or catching feeling in the hip.

Over time the pressure in the hip joint can wear down the labrum of the hip and cause a labral tear. To diagnose this condition, the doctor will perform a physical evaluation and may request an X-ray or MRI of the hip. To treat FAI, the doctor will either suggest therapy or surgery.

Read More: Femoral Acetabular Impingement Exercises to Avoid

Hip-Snapping Syndrome

If you feel a popping sound coming from your hips but you don't feel pain, you are most likely experiencing hip snapping syndrome. While this problem is usually painless, it can be very annoying and worrisome. If you are hearing a popping, snapping or clicking sound in your hips while performing situps but you don't feel pain, this is the most likely culprit.

The hip joint has a lot of muscles, tendons, ligaments and other soft tissue around it. Tendons and ligaments can get trapped on parts of your hip and leg bones while you move. When they snap back into place, you hear a loud snapping or popping sound. This is not dangerous and, as long as it isn't painful, is nothing to worry about.

If you want the popping to go away, you can try taking an anti-inflammatory over-the-counter pill and reduce your activity level, recommends the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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