T Nation

Pinching Feeling in the Hips


When I attempt to do the splits I get to a certain point and I have to stop because I get a pinching feeling in my hips (as if they get locked up) and I cant go any further, even though im sure my adductor muscles could stretch further.

I've tried to alter my posture (rotating hips forward or backward, leaning forward or back) but nothing seems to help

Has anyone else had this problem?



To have a shot at answering your question in a helpful manner I am going to need a bit more information.

  1. When we talk about the "hips", I am assuming we are referring to the femoral acetabular joint (the joint where your thigh bone connects to your pelvis) and not your iliac crest (the place most people put their hands when told "hands on the hips" or where pants sit "on the hips"). Am I in error?
  2. Where exactly do you feel the pinching? Is it in a muscle belly? Is it at the superior part of the joint (sort of like the head of the femur is shoving into the socket/acetabulum)?
  3. When the pinch happens does the abduction (scissoring open of your legs) stop abruptly, or does it continue slightly? What does the stop/lock up feel like? Is it sudden like a door lock setting into place or more gradual like a rubber band stretched all the way. Is it unilateral or bilateral (one side or both sides)? If the issue is bilateral does it feel the same on both sides? Abduction is motion away from your midline/sagittal plane. Adduction is motion toward the same plane. I learned them by knowing that aBduction-Birds fly away or Bitches leave and aDduction-dogs always come home.
  4. How old are you?
  5. How long have you been stretching?
  6. What is your usual stretching routine?

Note: I hope this did not come of condescending. I donĂ¢??t know your comfort level/experience with anatomy so I am trying for clarity.

In general I find it helpful to stretch hip flexors (both 1 and 2 joint so Psoas/iliacus and quadriceps), then hamstrings/hip extensors, and THEN abductors/groin.


Robert A


the adductor muscles of practically everyone could go further and achieve full splits.
There is nothing that connects the sinew, ligament and muscle tissue from one side to the other.
It's an issue with the cns and you have to work your way, slowly, around it.

Just practise.

edit: and what Robert A said.


Robert A - thanks for a great response. Ive just managed to get my hands on a copy of Tom Kurz's "Stretching Scientifically" and it seems that when I do the splits the head of the Femur is locking into the pelvis (which I think you might be suggesting in your reply)

Kurz, and other sources have said to combat this you need to rotate the pelvis forward. Does this sound correct to you?



Yes, that was the top of my list of suspicions.

Kurz comes well recommended for stretching information, so I think you do well to reference him. Anterior pelvic tilt sounds correct. Just so we are on the same page, we are talking about tilting the pelvis and increasing the extension/arch of the lumbar spine/low back. Effectively this points the zipper (or where the fly/zipper/front seam of your pants) more towards the ground than forward when you are in the full side split position. This alone may be enough to open your hips.

The cues I have found to work are the pelvic tilt, stretching other muscles first, and pushing the legs/feet out.

I wrote earlier about stretching the hip flexors first. I just do a kneeling hip flexor stretch and then pull my ankle up behind me to hit the quadriceps. Then I perform a hamstring/stretch the hip extensors. Finally I stretch the adductors. At some point I also like to hit internal rotation of the hip. I would certainly want to stretch all of those before working a side split, though I understand if you are doing this as part of a class you may not get to pick the order.

The single best cue I use is to visualize/try spreading the walls or floor apart with my feet when in the stretch. I write cue because obviously I can't do this, but by focusing on spreading the floor rather than dropping down or abducting my legs my body seems to take care of the pelvic tilt by itself.

If you have material by Kurz you can just follow his instructions. Just this caution: In general try to position your body so you feel the tension in the muscle bellies, not across or around joints. Femoral acetabular impingement can lead to damage of the joint and has been linked to early onset arthritis. Avoid causing pain in the joints. Also, you never wrote why you are pursuing the full split. If it is for martial arts or gymnastics be aware that other movements can also lead to impingement and make sure your mechanics are correct in those at well.

I hope this was helpful.


Robert A


Just a bit of an update......

This morning after foam rolling and dynamic warm up, I stretched the lower back, glute max and glute med, hamstring, hip flexors, hip flexors and rectus femoris, calves and ankles... then did individual groin stretches and finished with attempted splits. I got into as much anterior pelvic tilt as possible, but still felt the hip impingment and didnt feel much of a stretch in the belly of the muscle.

However, I forgot (as usual) to stretch the deep internal rotators, so tomorrow will try the same routine with them to see if that makes any difference.

Cheers Rob



Thanks for the update.

Well, do not be discouraged. Also do not force it. It takes time. Really stretch the hip flexors. REALLY stetch them. Almost everyone needs it.

How far down are you getting in the side split? Are you trying to stay upright or are you leaning forward? Sometimes getting into the split with your elbows on the ground helps. I have seen this called a "Road Kill Split".


Robert A


Yeah ive seen Pavel do the road kill split. I'm trying every position (leaning over and straight up) to see what helps best

Thanks for all the advice, i'll send you a picture in 6 months when im all the way down :slightly_smiling:


it may sound stupid but ive always just kinda forced it over the course of half an hour for most of my stretching. even when i wouldnt do the splits for a year or so and loose the ability i always found just hammering it with repeated stretching just pushing a little bit further each time to help and doing lots of holds at my maximum rom then trying to get just a little further. wouldnt recommend it but it works for me


this thread inspired me to see how bad my flexibility had gotten. ended up whipping up this video because a friend of mine doubted my out of shape looking self could do the splits any more..... needless to say there is much work to be done i used to be able to hold those splits for a half hour without the aid of my hands


just out of curiosity, but why do you want to do the splits? just a personal goal, or something required of your sport??


Dunno about the splits, but the 'foot behind head' stretch definitely helps your bottom game in BJJ. Lets you 'open up your knees' as the Rener Gracie calls it.

And I'm pretty sure Westdale's watched way too much Bloodsport.


i dont watch blood sport i study it. soon il have the drop to the splits while delivering an uppercut to the taint down perfectly


That hurts me just looking at it.