Flexibility issues...or just stupidity issues....

Ok, I know someone out there will want to bonk me with a 2x4 for this (ok, so maybe a lot of “someones”) so feel free to flame me AFTER you give me a few helpful hints. I had been using the Smith machine for squats (not quite ass-to-grass but very low) thinking it was all hunky-dory and then decided that I didn’t want to do “girl” squats anymore but wanted to try MANLY squats - you know, actually use the whole Olympic bar and weights deal like someone who knows what they’re doing does? Well, that was interesting! Not only could I hardly manage to lift the weight I was accustomed to warming up with, but I realized it’s damn hard to control the balance of the friggin’ bar. Something else I realized is that there you seem to sprout cool new muscles somewhere deep in your body that you A) never knew you had; and B) can’t rub when they’re sore. And this brings us to the point of this post…

I have no idea what it’s called but the ligament thingy that seems to start at your hipbone and connect to some quad muscle on my right leg hurts. If you put your fingers on your hipbone and then rub horizontally across as you drop you hand towards your thigh there’s some sort of connector deal there. If someone has a name for this it’d be great to know it. Anyway, I first noticed it hurting when deep in a squat but it wasn’t enough to make me want to stop. After several sets, it wanted to be rubbed and iced though. Since then, it’s been at a very, very low level of discomfort and I didn’t think much about it. Well, yesterday was leg day again and the same type of thing happened.

It kind of feels like a flexibility issue because it doesn’t bother me except when deep in a squat, lunge (with right leg back) or when walking quickly (stride with right leg back). But then again, I’m fairly flexible - splits to the floor all three ways, can touch my forehead to my knees with a flat back and feet, can do bridges/backbends/etc. I did a search on flexibility and found an article talking about under/overly tight hip rotators and a test where you lie flat on the floor with your legs up and see how far you can lower them before your back arches. Ideally you should be able to get nearly to the floor - I went to the floor with no problem.

Any ideas what stupid thing I did and why? What to do to correct it?

It’s called the ilio-tibial (IT) band. It’s usually tight in lifters and runners. I would definitley recommend lossening it up, since a tight IT band can lead to knee and hip problems over time, and will cause other muscles to tighten up. There are some stretches out there if you consult the books. However, the IT band does not respond well to stretching. The best way to loosen it is with soft tissue work (ART, massage, etc.). Unfortunately, applying pressure to a tight IT band is VERY uncomfortable, so you’re going to have to be prepared for that. A good do-it-yourself technique is to get one of those biofoam rollers and roll along it on the side of your leg, just let gravity do the work for you. You can use your hands to control the weight at first, that way you can ease into it. It will probably be most tender about two thirds of the way down toward your knee. Once you loosen it up, work on it regularly to keep it that way.

First of all, you’ve learned a valuable lesson. When somethin is hurting that you feel shouldn’t be as you’re performing a exercise. You STOP. No matter if it’s “not hurting that much”. You can stop and reevaluate your form, maybe lower the weight - but most of all - STOP.

Okay, ALL you're trying to say here is that your hip flexors hurt. I was going to say something like the iliotibial band - which, if my memory of anatomy serves me right, runs outside the thigh from the hipbone to about the knee. But I think it's the hip flexors here. Damn, sometimes I surprise myself.....anyways....

Did you warm up? Stretch? Before you performed the squats? If you began the squat cold you have a good chance for injury. Especially if you've never performed them before. Now, you just need to rest the area - next time when you want to try to squat again, warm up - try either freestanding squats (w/out a bar) and then with the bar. If you feel ANY type of discomfort - you stop doing the exercise.

I don’t think you’re feeling a ligament, but rather the origins of your rectus femoris, sartorius, and perhaps the tensor fasciae latae, all muscles. The first two are hip flexors, and the third is an abductor. It sounds like you’re flexible, so you might have strained one of the hip flexors, try RICE, hope it helps.

If I’m understanding you, and this pain is on the front of the thigh, rather than the side (you didn’t mention which direction you were rubbing horizontally) this is either attachments to one or more of the quad muscles. or referred piriformis pain. What happens if you lie on your back, and bring your right leg cross-body to your left side, trying to touch it to the floor? If no pain, I’d go with the previous post.
What to do? Well, I’m prejudiced towards acupuncture, but you may not have a good one around you.If your husband’s not skilled in massage, something acupuncturists use often, as kind of an “instant deep tissue massage” is something called cupping, which is easy to do and very effective, if you don’t mind big hickey-like marks on the area. Several companies sell cupping sets, for about $35, and they’re great to have around the house anyway. Let me know if you want company names.
In the meantime, I would continue to work the good leg, as this will assist the injured leg to heal faster (the same part of the nervous system innervates both sides). Single leg press will do it, with dumbell step ups. ANd from your report, deadlifts shouldn’t aggravate it, so you can do these regular style.
Congradulations for at least trying the bar. Strong, on the Smith machine = good looking, according to my mother. You’ll be back.

I have occasionally had the smae problem in the past, and found that I can work around it by varying my foot position while squatting. (And it would help to know what foot position you were using when you experienced the pain.)

I’d also like for you to post photos of yourself doing splits “all three ways”, squats, and any other stretches you can think of. It would help the Forum to assess your, uh, form.

“Rhhhhhhh fighting urge to make sexual remark about Karma’s flexiblility.” Phew okay when you warm up what does your warm up sets look like? Lets say your doing 2 sets of 15 reps of 135 lbs rest time 1 min. (Just an example.) I think it would be a good idea to one ride the bikes or run on the tread mill for 10 min. Then do a set of 5 or so with no weight. Then rest 15 to 30 sec. then just the bar (5 reps). rest…95 lbs.(5 reps) now rest for 1 min. then do your first set of 15. :slight_smile:

Are you squatting flat footed (aka not in running shoes)? How is your ham/quad ratio?

I frequently have the same problem when I don’t stretch. What works best for me is a stretch that looks like a lunge: one leg in front bent at ninety degrees if possible and the other straight out back. The important thing is to keep the knee of the rear leg locked, or unbent, and then over time as you losen-up start leaning back into the stretch focusing on the axis at the hip not the back/spine. And I don’t just static stretch but get into the stretch for a couple of seconds and back off for a few and then go back into it for around three or four reps each side and then do each side twice. Really works great.

Thank you all for your responses!

Flash: I can rub in around it or on it directly quite hard and it’s not all that painful. But rubbing doesn’t seem to do much to change the sensation. Perhaps I’m just not using the proper technique.

Patricia: Yes! I learned a lesson. I humbly and gratefully accept the chastisement. What you said about hip flexors versus iliotibial would make sense as it’s not located on the outside of the thigh but directly below the front protrusion of my hipbone, roughly halfway between the hip bone and mons pubis. Yes, I warmed up. I usually do 5-7 min on an eliptical machine (resistance and incline med-high) and then do 5-7 min of static and dynamic stretches, going through full ROM for whatever excercises I’ll be doing. I’ve done some freestanding/nonweighted squat movements and as long as I don’t go below parallel, it’s fine. Should I not do these movements until I can go all the way down, or should I continue with this ROM until I can achieve it fully?

Needledoc: I can do that stretch and it doesn’t hurt, just feels nice. I do it occasionally when my back or glutes feel a bit tight (sometimes have someone press down on me as well). So you’re recommending I continue to work my left leg (weak side incidentally)? That would definitely make me feel like less of a shmuck and shirker.

Char-dawg: I use a slightly toes out position and vary the width of the stance from shoulder to about 4" outside shoulder (each foot 4"out= tot 8") depending on the weight and what mood I’m in. I’ll occasionally do feet together if I’m in a very light weight/high rep mood or use one of those things you tuck your feet under and the “sit” back and straighten up. Regarding pics of my stretches…you’re funny! :wink: Hopefully, I’ll be able to get some body shots up on the Yahoo site by mid next week.

Nkeago: Eeeesh! You really think doing that many warm ups is necessary? But workouts would take a good HOUR longer if I did that! Is that just because I’m a bonehead and need that much practice/recoup time or is this something you do regularly? If so, that may be where I’m screwing up.

Clintpatty: I wear your basic cross training shoe when I exercise (gyms usually frown on bare feet). I am not sure what the quad/ham ratio is or how to determine it. My legs look fairly balanced though. How can you tell if you’re not balanced?

I perform some stretches before I squat. After which a warm up consists of a set of 135lbs. The set is performed with very, very deliberate reps of me going below parallel. I immediately load up to 225lbs. for my next set. I’ve never experienced a injury or strain. This is to give you an idea of what I say about warm up.

General consensus is that one has a better chance of injury at parallel. Better to be slightly above or below. "Ass to the grass" is better performed with less weight (for me, anyway, since I'm more concerned with form).

How you know if you are off balance? I go by feel. If you feel the need to lean forward - especially at the waist and at the toes. You should be "settling down" into a squat.

Azteclifter may have pegged it – sartorius. Possibly gracillus. In either case, you can’t really stretch these well. You can massage them, but you gotta get DEEP (and that gets painful). I’ve had a tight gracillus before, diagnosed by my chiro, and does working that one ever hurt!

First let me say, Patricia, if you do 225 as your second squat set (and you’re going to parallel) as a WARMUP, then you are the Iron Thigh From Outer Space.
Re warmups, I’d go, 70% of 1st working set, then small jumps upwards, mixed with moving stretches, static lunges work well. Tom Kurtz has written (and written, and written) about why you shouldn’t do static stretches pre-active movements. His stuff available free at the website from Stadion Publications, whose adress I’d give if I could remember it. Hip mobilization drills will do you much better than static stretches before squatting.
Takes too much time? How much time are you losing now, injured? I speak as a dork who oughta take his own advice, having done heavy Zercher squats with insufficient warmup, and now has a pulled lat as a result. The heavier you’re going, the longer the warmup, swear to god. The Westside guys are known for brief and brutal workouts, yet Louie Simmons recommends starting the heavy stuff a half hour into the workout.
You probably didn’t pull just one muscle, the pull was likely spread out among the attachments of several. Yes, working the unhurt side will definately have you healing faster.

needledoc: I warm up with 135lbs. Boy, if I COULD warm up with 225lbs - that would be pretty damn swell. But it’s my first set AFTER warmup that is 225lbs. Thought I’d clarify.