T Nation

Tightness Right Above Right Hip


So, since I started lifting again back in March, I've had a feeling of muscle tightness, or something, on an area right above my right hip, and right next to my spine. It's basically right above the area where your right side of the hip and your spine meets.

The tightness becomes really obvious when I do hip flexor stretches with my right leg in front of me, and is virtually nonexistent when I do hip flexor stretches with my left leg in front. I also feel it to a lesser degree whenever I lean down and then up with my lower back straight, in the way you would do a RDL.

I've tried all the usual recommendations for tight muscles (foam rolling, stretches), but it never got any better. So I'm wondering if anyone who is more versed in anatomy than me knows what might be the issue. Is it something I should worry about?


You said you "...started lifting again back in March..."

1) How long was the lay off?

2) Why was there a lay off?

3) What did you do (if anything) for exercise during the lay off?

4) What exercises/rep scheme/frequency/ did you return to in March?

You describe the pain as on "...above the area where your right side of the hip and your spine meets..."

5) Would you describe the pain as being closer to the back or the front of the torso?

You said you notice it more "...when I do hip flexor stretches..."

6) There are quite few hip flexor stretches out there. If you can find a picture of the type of stretch you are referring to, it will help me.

You said you've "...tried all the usual recommendations for tight muscles (foam rolling, stretches)..." without much success.

7) Again, there are quite a few SMR techniques and stretches out there to choose from. If you can be more descriptive, it will help me.


Roughly 5 months. Stopped back in mid Oct.

De Quervain's tenosynovitis made it simply too painful to make a grip on a barbell/dumbbell until I let it rest for a couple of months, along with a lot of fish oil.

Have gotten surgery for it finally in June and now it is (hopefully) gone for good.

Just walked on the treadmill for the most part. Not much. Sat a lot.

Something like this-

Walk, push-ups and chin-ups.
DB Row
Walk, push-ups and chin-ups.
DB Row
Walk, push-ups and chin-ups.
DB Row

Later the deadlift got culled down to 1xweek after I went past 325, sometime in May.

I still had De Quervain's at that point and more or less went to the gym just to squat and dead-lift. I could make grip a barbell or DB, provided that I'm not placing any real load onto my wrist on any angle. This made things like OHP/BP difficult if not outright impossible to do without aggravating the condition. So I just ignored upper-body work while did lower body stuff.

I should have specified; it's on the back of the torso.


Specifically, I did DeFranco's agile 8.


One possibility is the right quadratus lumborum.

Fairly common among those who primary do bilateral training. Although it is virtually impossible see with the nake eye, the body often shifts as it performs a given exercise. In other words, both sides are NOT working equally.

It truly is amazing the disparity between what someone thinks is good form and what his or her body is actually doing.

Furthermore, the five months of lay off in which you "sat alot" most likely contributed in more than a few ways.

The QL originates at the iliac crest and inserts at the 12th rib and lumbar spine. Based on the source, the insertion on the lumbar spine can be anywhere from L1-L5, L2-L5, L1-L4, L2-4; the take-home is that it inserts into most of the transverse processes of the L-spine.

Defranco's agile 8 does not address this. It should be noted that it also does not address T-spine mobility, tightness in pec major/minor, lats, VMO, gastrocs, and plantar facia.

So, contrary to what you may believe, you certainly did not try everything. You simply tried the most popular thing. This is understandable. There is a reason, after all, why McDonald's sells more burgers than any other franchise.

The hip flexor stretch you described does not stretch the QL. And, although QL stretches are important, IF you have developed trigger points, stretching alone will not resolve this.

You also mentioned that "...feel it to a lesser degree whenever I lean down and then up with my lower back straight, in the way you would do a RDL." Perhaps it could be that your muscles of the erector spinae (such as the iliocostalis), multifidus, glute max, biceps femoris long head, semimembranosus/tendinosus are being recruited. If you just said to yourself, man, that's alot of muscles, then you're right. With all these other muscles kicking in, the irritated QL is spared. So this may be why you are less symptomatic when leaning down and up in the way you described.

You will need a spherical object such as a tennis ball (they even make softball sized/shaped foam rollers). Just be very careful. As stated before, it inserts at the 12 rib and you are very near the L-spine, which, by the way, should NOT be foam rolled (I'm sure there may be some exceptions but I very much doubt you fall into that category).

A SAFER bet is to find a skilled therapist, have her work on your QL so you develop a better understanding of where it is and how it feels to have trigger points worked on in a safe manner. You can then transfer this awareness into your SMR sessions. This is the course I recommend.

And, as always, do a general or passive warm up prior to SMR.

Follow the SMR with static stretching. Only morons and publicity-hungry whores trying to makes waves will tell you that stretching makes people weak. Gentle to mild static stretches held for 30 seconds or less will not trigger the golgi tendon organ in a performance-debilitating manner.

Get out of that barbell-only mindset. This is where most people tune me out but I'll say it anyway in the hope that you are in the minority. Barbell work is important for strength and size gains. However, many who live by that alone will, sooner or later, suffer the consequences of an imbalanced physique. You are witnessing this first hand. If this doesn't convince you, then I am sorry...for you, that is.

Now, keep in mind that my thoughts on the QL is an initial hypothesis based on the information you provided. Therefore, if it's not the QL, come back to this thread with an update. It's obviously something and we'll figure it out. It is fairly common for even intelligent people to lose focus and objectivity when they have to deal with the pain on a daily basis.


First off, thank you for the very detailed response!

I agree. I think an imbalance is definitely a part of it. I definitely feel it on my squats, where my left leg/glutes are noticeably weaker.

The tightness itself doesn't play any real influence on my daily life. I only really feel it during squats, so it is probable that I developed it at some point back in March.

I've been considering, but not actually doing [ =( ] unilateral work for my legs to fix the imbalance. You've give me all the reason I need to actually do that now.

I will report back in a couple of weeks with what I've done and results.