The hip can be a very common area of trouble for not only athletes, but the general public as well. We see hips become troublesome when the same repetitive activity over and over occurs. What does that sound like? Basically every sport that an athlete plays. A common condition we see is called femoral anterior glide syndrome. Never heard of it? Let’s get into why this condition often goes overlooked and is normally diagnosed as something else.
Hip Joint Biomechanics
Understanding basic hip mechanics will give you a better picture of femoral anterior glide syndrome. The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. There are a significant amount of muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, etc that help allow the hip to function properly. Specifically, the main job of all these tissues are to keep the femoral head (ball) centered in the middle of the acetabulum (socket). Failure for the ball to stay centered in the socket during activity can create undue stress on certain tissues. Over time these tissues become irritable which then leads to discomfort.
When attempting to flex the hip, or bring the knee up towards your chest, the normal movement of the hip causes the ball to roll and glide backwards. This allows for proper clearance of the structures around the hip. With femoral anterior glide syndrome, the femoral head fails to move backwards adequately, and puts strain on the tissues in front of the hip.
Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome Anatomy
The tissues that are most irritable with this condition are the anterior hip capsule and the hip flexors. The reason why these tissues get irritated is due to a lack of adequate strength through the glute maximus. The glute max helps in centering the ball in the socket when the muscles around the hips contract. Failure of the glute to efficiently do its job leads to the ball gliding forward, which puts more stress on the front part of the hip. That is why people who feel the need to stretch the hip flexors constantly get no long lasting results.
Another reason for anterior hip discomfort is due to accumulated stiffness through the back portion of the hip joint, which causes the ball to not sit centered in the joint. Stretching the hip flexors only further promotes the ball shifting forward in the socket and further irritating symptoms.
Mechanism Of Injury
There usually isn’t one specific cause for femoral anterior glide syndrome. It is normally an accumulation of stress over time which creates the alteration in hip mechanics and soft tissue/joint restrictions. These restrictions then alter how the muscles and tissues around the hip joint interact, thus creating aberrant movement patterns in the hip.
The key with any type of joint or soft tissue restriction is to regain that range of motion and then improve strength within that newly regained motion. Like we discussed earlier, the backside of the hip has a tendency to get very stiff and tight which creates a change in how the ball sits in the socket. Improving the mobility of the structures in the backside of the hip can go a long way in addressing this issue. Addressing the stiffness in the back side of the hip will allow you to flex the hip without pinching or discomfort in the hip. But as like anything we’ve discussed, strengthening needs to be part of the equation.
The key thing to remember is stretching will NOT improve your symptoms, it’ll actually make them worse. Recognizing that the symptoms are less likely due to hip flexor tightness and more due to a hip joint issue is the first place to start. Without that recognition, you’ll just continue to be addressing symptoms and not the source. Hip flexor tendinitis and chronic feeling of tightness or needing to stretch usually has an underlying issue. Once you find that issue, only then will you be able to take the necessary steps to address it.
Be sure to follow our instagram page as we’ll be posting videos of some of the exercises and things we give our clientele to address this condition!