Who’s wondered, “Why Do My Hips Hurt After Deadlifts?”
Deadlifts are a fantastic exercise in terms of building size and strength.
However, they don’t feel so great if you experience hip pain after you’ve performed them.
In fact, this may cause you to avoid doing deadlifts altogether, and can even impact on many other exercises.
So, I’d like to explain why your hips hurt after deadlifts and what you can do about it.
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Why Do My Hips Hurt After Deadlifts?
There are a number of reasons that your hips hurt after deadlifts. Firstly, you may not be using your glutes efficiently, which means that your hamstrings will have to bear the brunt of the exercise. If you continue to deadlift in this manner over a period of time this can cause irritation of the femoral head, which can lead to femoral anterior glide syndrome. Your hip pain can also be caused by tight or weak hip flexors. Additionally, you could be raising one hip before the other every time you deadlift.
1. You’re Not Using Your Glutes Efficiently During Deadlifts
One of the main reasons your hips hurt after deadlifts will be down to poor technique.
More specifically that you’re not using your glutes efficiently enough during the lift.
I have always stated that deadlifts are a leg exercise, as opposed to a back exercise.
Therefore, you should mainly be using your glutes and hamstrings to get the weight off the floor.
However, there is a tendency to pull with the arms whenever you deadlift.
Firstly, this makes it harder to lift heavy loads.
Your glutes happen to be the largest and strongest muscle in the body.
So, it makes perfect sense that you should be using the glutes to lift potentially the heaviest weight you’ll have on a barbell.
Once you start pulling with the arms you have literally turned the exercise into some type of hybrid rowing movement.
Plus, this will also put an incredible strain on your lower back.
Furthermore, if you’re not using your glutes effectively then your hamstrings will generally overcompensate.
If you continue to deadlift in this manner it’s likely that you’ll cause an irritation of the femoral head.
2. You Have Femoral Anterior Glide Syndrome
So, I’ve just mentioned the femoral head.
This is the highest part of the thigh bone, which also happens to be connected to the pelvis and the hip joint.
So, if you aren’t using the glutes properly during deadlifts, as I say, the pressure falls onto the hamstrings.
And this in turn causes irritation of the femoral head.
Over a prolonged period of time this can eventually cause femoral anterior glide syndrome.
This is a syndrome that will impair movement of the anterior hip, or basically the front of the hip.
Femoral anterior glide syndrome is typically aggravated by either hip flexion and extension.
The deadlift is of course a hip-hinge movement, which requires hip flexion and extension.
Therefore, if you do have femoral anterior glide syndrome you’ll immediately feel hip pain whenever you deadlift.
Stretching the Hip Capsule – Fixing Femoral Anterior Glide
3. You Have Tight/Weak Hip Flexors
Hip pain during or after deadlifts can also be caused by tight or weak hip flexors.
The hip flexors are a group of muscles that are located at the top of your thigh.
They play a huge role in the vast majority of lower body movements.
In fact, even stepping out of the gym for a moment, the hip flexors are involved in many everyday activities.
Your hip flexors allow you to walk, bend, kick, and swivel at the hips.
They are an extremely small group of muscles in the lower body, but the knock-on effect they have on your overall health is massive.
In fact, tight hip flexors are often the root cause of various ailments and issues including:
- Bad Posture
- Nagging Pain in Your Hips, Lower Back, or Legs
- Digestive Problems
- Loss of Sexual Performance
- Circulatory Issues
- Trouble Sleeping
- Feeling Sluggish During the Day
And to be honest that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Your hip extensors should fully straighten your pelvis when you reach the upright position of the deadlift.
However, weak or tight hip flexors will prevent you from doing this.
And this will be the cause of your hip pain from deadlifts.
4. You Are “Leaning Back” at the Top of the Deadlift
Something that I see all too often is people leaning back at the top of the deadlift.
Now don’t get me wrong, you do want to straighten your torso completely and this may involve a slight lean back.
However, more often than not there seems to be an excessive lean back.
I feel that many people use the “excessive lean” as a way to really bring the glutes into the deadlift.
They will typically squeeze the glutes tight at the top of the movement and force the torso back.
But, I believe this is done because it is the first time that the glutes have been involved in the lift.
I’ve already spoken of using the glutes to lift the barbell.
Plus, I’m sure most people are aware that the glutes should be involved in the deadlift.
So, in reality as a way to compensate they really squeeze the glutes at the top and the lean back far too much.
In effect, you are creating lumbar hyperextension and anterior pelvic tilt.
Basically, you are curving the lower back unnaturally at the top of the deadlift.
This in turn can actually decrease the amount of space at the hip, which is probably why you’re feeling hip pain.
You should always aim to “stand tall” at the top of the deadlift, as opposed to leaning back.
Leaning Back at the Top of the Deadlift
5. You Have Uneven Hip Movement
The final factor to consider is uneven hip movement.
This will involve a thorough form check when performing deadlifts.
Hip pain can often be caused by unwanted lateral movements during the deadlift.
This is especially true if you have suffered with a previous spinal injury.
There is a tendency to “protect” your previously injured side, and without realising it you may be leaning over to one side whenever you deadlift.
Furthermore, you may even be raising one hip before the other, which will place excessive stress on the one or both of the hip joints.
This could even be the case if one side of your body is a lot stronger than the other.
The best course of action here is to drop the load significantly and simply practice perfect deadlift technique.
If you’re still experiencing hip pain when you deadlift with a much lighter load this could be a sign of femoral anterior glide.
The best way to check your form is to either ask someone to watch your technique, or simply video yourself while deadlifting.
So, hopefully you have a better idea of why your hips hurt after deadlifting.
The main reason will generally be that you’re not using the glutes efficiently, which means that your hamstrings will have to overcompensate.
Over time this will cause irritation of the femoral head, and this can lead to femoral anterior glide syndrome.
Additionally, your hip pain could be caused by weak or tight hip flexors, or that you lean back excessively at the top of the deadlift.
Finally, you should do a form check to ensure that you don’t have uneven hip movement during deadlifts.
Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.