Taking an active role in your recovery from a hip labral tear is not as hard as you might think. While this type of condition may be painful, and somewhat debilitating, adding a few hip labrum stretches into your daily routine can help you get on the path to recovery.
By stretching the muscles that surround the hip and correcting any imbalances in your flexibility, you can decrease labral tear hip pain at night.
What’s a Labral Tear?
Your hip joint is composed of a ball (called the femoral head) and a socket (called the acetabulum), allowing it to move in many different directions. The socket is lined by a ring of tissue, also known as the labrum. This structure serves several different purposes. The labrum deepens the socket portion of the joint and helps keep the joint's seal, adding to its stability. It also assists in helping the femoral head to smoothly move on the acetabulum without pain or restriction.
In some people, the labrum can begin to tear. This can occur for a number of reasons, including trauma to the leg, degeneration over time or as a result of a structural abnormality within the joint itself.
While this condition can be serious, it is actually more common than you might think. In fact, a June 2015 systematic review published in Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic & Related Surgery found that over 68 percent of people with no symptoms whatsoever had some labral tearing in their hips when they had an MRI.
What Symptoms Does It Cause?
As mentioned before, in some cases a hip labral tear causes no issues at all. However, this is not always the case. In some instances, a labral issue can cause your hip to lock, pop or catch as you move in various directions. This can make things like walking, running, crouching and going up and down stairs difficult. It can also limit your range of motion, causing stiffness within the hip joint itself.
In addition, one of the most common complaints in people with this condition is soreness or pain. This typically occurs deep within the joint itself and is difficult to touch or palpate on the skin's surface. Labral tear hip pain at night is also another common concern.
While a tear in the joint's labrum is unlikely to heal on its own due to poor blood flow to the area. A comprehensive rehabilitation program that includes hip labrum stretches can help reduce or eliminate these symptoms. Try the stretches which follow to help you reduce the pain associated with a labral tear.
1. Hip Flexor Stretch
According to a February 2019 literature review published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, correcting muscular flexibility imbalances with hip labrum stretches is an important part of reducing the pain associated with this condition. One such stretch targets the hip flexor muscles in the front (anterior) part of your hip and groin.
- Get into a tall-kneel position with the knee of the hip to be stretched on the ground beneath you.
- Keeping your body completely upright and your stomach muscles tight, slowly shift your body weight forward onto the leg in front of you. Be sure not to lean your trunk forward or round your spine as you do this.
- When a mild to moderate stretch is felt in the front of the hip being stretched, hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds before you relax. The stretch can be completed three times and done two to three times each day.
2. Stretch Your Piriformis
Your piriformis muscle is a structure that lies deep behind the gluteus maximus in your buttocks, and which helps you rotate your hip. Tightness in this muscle, which sits near your sciatic nerve, can throw off the mechanics of the hip, and alter your movement at the joint. Try the following stretch to help improve flexibility in this muscle.
- Lie on your back with both of your knees bent and your feet on the ground.
- Cross your affected leg and hook the ankle on top of the unaffected knee.
- Grab your unaffected thigh with both hands and bring the leg slowly in towards your stomach.
- When you feel a low to moderate-level stretch in the buttock of the affected hip, maintain the pull for 15 to 30 seconds before you release it. Try this exercise three times and work in the stretch a few times each day.
A towel can also be hooked around your affected ankle instead of using the opposite leg to guide your stretch.
3. Do the Butterfly Stretch
The butterfly stretch helps target the muscles on the inside of the hip near your groin and inner thigh (called your adductor muscles). Poor flexibility in these structures can cause the hip joint itself to tighten. The following technique helps reverse this issue.
- Sit on the floor with both knees bent and your feet touching each other. A small pillow can be used under your buttocks to make this more comfortable.
- Keeping your feet together, allow both knees to drop to the side and toward the floor. Make sure to sit up tall as you make this motion with your legs.
- When you begin to feel a stretch on the inside of your groin and thigh, hold this position for 30 seconds. If you are unable to feel a pull, you can further the stretch by pressing down gently on each leg. Complete up to three stretches in a sitting and do this several times daily.
If it is more comfortable, the stretch can also be performed while lying down.
Avoid these Exercises
Regular stretching and strengthening is important; however, there are several exercises to avoid if you have hip labral tear.
A smaller, 93-person, November 2018 study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine found that avoiding activities that involved excessive hip flexion (bringing the knees up towards your chest) or internal rotation (rotating your hip inwards toward the other leg) was helpful in avoiding common symptoms of this condition like labral tear hip pain at night. This may include exercises like a knee to chest stretch, deep squats or lunges.
If you have attempted to stretch and strengthen your hips, and you paid close attention to the exercises to avoid, and you still have symptoms, you may need to speak to your doctor. Further treatment like formal physical therapy, an injection into the hip joint, or even surgery may be necessary.
- Cleveland Clinic: “Hip Labral Tear”
- Arthroscopy: “The Journal of Arthroscopic & Related Surgery: Prevalence of Femoroacetabular Impingement Imaging Findings in Asymptomatic Volunteers: A Systematic Review”
- Mayo Clinic: “Hip Labral Tear”
- American Physical Therapy Association: “Hip Labral Tears”
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health: “Hip Labral Tear”
- International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy: “Non-Operative Management of Individuals With Non-Arthritic Hip Pain: A Literature Review”
- Cleveland Clinic: “Sciatica & Leg Pain”
- American Association of Retired Persons: “3 Stretches for Healthy Hips”
- American Journal of Sports Medicine: "Nonoperative Management of Femoroacetabular Impingement: A Prospective Study"