T Nation

Squats and Hip Pain

Quick background - I’m doing 5/3/1 and am now in my 6th cycle.

For the first four cycles, I was squatting kind of moderate-wide (each foot probably 6-8" outside of shoulder width. I haven’t actually measured). As I went into cycle 5, I narrowed my stance to just outside shoulder width. I did this because it seems as though a lot of raw squatters use a narrow stance (to protect their hips?) The first week, I went down into a squat and felt a pain on the right side where my hip meets my lower back.

When I stood up after, I could tell the pain was originating in the front of my hip and not my back. I got in there with a hard ball and after a couple of days of some serious myo release, I got rid of the pain. The problem is that since then, this is happening every time I squat and the pain is also messing up my deadlift days. I haven’t had a truely good leg day in over a month. I just took two weeks off, foam rolled and stretched a lot, went in yestday and it happened again!

Any idea why I’d be messing up a muscle at the front of my hip when squating?
Should I just widen my stance again? I don’t think I was going super wide and I definitely felt tighter when I was squatting wide.



If you re post this in the injury rehab forum BBB might be able to offer you some advice.

I have had pain in my left hip which was caused by a lower back injury.

Get yourself to a chiropractor who isn’t opposed to weightlifting would be my advice.

Good luck…

it could be a hip flexor muscle. a friend that is an O-lifting coach clued me in that hip flexors can affect squat depth in a narrow stance while wide stance works more the hip adductors.

if the myo release helped i would maintain that as a preventative measure and do some stretching of that area as well.

and it wouldnt hurt to have someone check your form and in a worse case scenario have the spine checked out.

Thanks guys,

I was actually planning on heading to a chiropractor next week on my days off from work. I’m hoping that will help get rid of any built up scar tissue and an adjustment would always help too.

I sent my question at 4 in the morning, so I don’t think I worded things right. It wasn’t supposed to be looking for the rehab side, but rather my main question was on the mechanism of injury and which stance I should go with. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was squatting wide for 4-5 months which slowly beat up my hip and going narrow was just a coincidence, or whether narrowing my stance, itself, was the cause. I don’t want to get the hip fixed up, only to go back and mess it up worse. I was definitely stronger wider, but…

I should have mentioned something in my first post, it may clear things up. Right now with a narrow stance, my butt tucks slightly as I hit parallel. Not to bad and I’m hammering the flexibility/mobility drills to fix that. I’ve thought that this may be the cause, I’m just not sure as the pain is in my hip not back.

Thanks again,


pretty sure that Ripptoe (or someone) said that when you change things… e.g., bar position, stance width etc… then you should treat it as a DIFFERENT EXERCISE in the sense of not expecting your numbers to carry over to what (in effect) is a different movement.

mixing up your stance width alters the workload for the different muscles. sounds like your hip flexors protested.

what is most comfortable for different people can vary (to a degree). different people have slightly different hip socket / femur head structures that dictate how the femur naturally wants to rotate in the socket. might be that you simply are more comfortable with a slightly wider stance. or might simply be that your muscles are used to the slightly wider stance so you need to give them some time to gradually adjust to the new movement.

narrower stance - more hip flexors / quads
wider stance - more adductors / glutes / hammies

only go as low as you can go without tucking your tail under. the tail tuck under is about your hip flexors opting out. takes a while to train 'em up.

Thanks alexus. I never really thought of different stances as different exercises, but you’re right. I did think it was too much of a coincidence that the “injury” happened as soon as I narrowed my stance if, in fact, the wider stance caused it.

As for the tail tuck being about my hip flexors opting out, that’s an really good point too and I didn’t think about it that way either. I was wondering why I didn’t get the tuck on the lighter sets, but did as the weight increased, even though depth was the same. Having my hip flexors not conditioned to the load and therefore opting out makes sense. Kind of one of those things where, in an effort to protect itself, a muscle tightens up or does some other funky thing and ends up causing the injury.

I’ve got a chiropractor appointment on Monday. I’ll see what he says and then probably go back wider for now on my main lift and then use a narrow stance squat or front squat with lighter weight as an assistance lift.

Thanks for the input guys. This is why I come here.


I could be wrong…

I’ve been working on natural glute ham raises and experimented with both pylo push-uping for the positive and negative and also with using a stick to reduce the load a little. I’ve found that if I pylo push-up my hamstring feels like it is threatening to tear under the load and then it simply switches off and I free fall. I think it is ultimately more productive for me to use the stick and consciously try and contract my hammies / glutes as much as I’m able for the duration of the set.

I wonder if hip flexors simply opt out in a similar way. No damn you I’m not gonna help you with that weight!

Of course insofar as they are different exercises they are related… But people tend to injure themselves if they don’t warm up, yup. You might just find that in future you need to warm up with a narrow stance if you plan on doing work sets with them. Even if your work set weight is the same (though I would actually expect your wider stance squat to be stronger insofar as it utilizes more glutes / hammies - but maybe i’m confusing squat stance with other variables like bar placement). Dunno.

Could be an issue with your hip height. One hip may be higher than the other causing a leg length discrepancy. This is could be caused by your SI being “out of place.” If you want to address the issue via external stimulus and have someone else manipulate you in order to fix the issue then go see a chiropractor.

However, when things are fixed from an external stimulus then the body has a way of reverting back. However, if you address the issue internally, meaning, you fix it “yourself” so to speak, then the issue has a way of remaining fixed.

Here’s a good video for hip/lower back health.

Hope this helps,
Freak Strength . com

That’s awesome, thanks for the video. I’ll start incorporating that right away. It can only help.


I like FreakStrength and alexus’s comments. Tail tucking is a huge no-no and is usually do to some core strength or mobility issue.

In addition, if the pain persists after fixing your form and seeing the chiro a few times, you should get a scan to see if you have any spinal issues. Hip pain in the area you described is often a symptom of a spinal issue. By the way, don’t do any foam rolling directly over the spine (I’m guessing you aren’t, but just in case). If you have a spondylolisthesis putting direct pressure on the spine would be a bad idea, even with something soft like a foam roller.

Have you been rolling the front of the hip?

If so, roll (tennis/lacrosse ball) the back of the hip in a side to side motion.

Often times when it’s the front of the joint that hurts, it’s the back of the joint that’s stiff and causing the pain.