Can you tell me what causes and what to do about uncomfortable popping in the hip during leg circles or when lowering the leg, such as in the Pilates single straight leg stretch?
Hi Pam and thanks for your question regarding the leg circles.
This seems to be a common question or problem that students in my classes have as well. I have even experienced it myself.
Generally the popping is a tendon or ligament popping or gliding over the bone of the hip socket. It definitely won't break you but over time and lots of repetitions it can cause repetetive stress injury.
So, to avoid this popping, I recommend people start by bending the working leg slightly to feel the head of the thigh bone or femur heavy set in the hip socket. This is where the leg should circle.
You can also do the leg circles with a stretch band looped around your foot.
I find it very helpful for people with larger legs or a weaker abdomen to help support the leg like you would on the reformer by using a stretch band or strap. This is a great way to get a better feel for the position of the leg circling in the hip socket.
Sometimes with the leg extended and working in too large a range of motion the head or ball will pull out of the socket and this causes the popping noise as it glides over the bone of the socket.
The same thing may happen with the single straight leg stretch, the leg or thigh bone is reaching too far out of the socket which will cause the popping noise.
Decrease your reach and range of motion slightly so you can control the movement of the leg while still extending it. You might also try externally rotating the foot just slightly.
Check out this article to find out the 3 progressions for the leg circles
Sometimes when we advance in our exercises to quickly or don't go back and review the fundamentals we can get stuck in doing the movements incorrectly and end up with bad habits and sometimes injury. I catch myself getting into these habits at times as well.
Just know that when you have pain or unusual noises such as you did, you find ways to do it better.
Good for you for listening to your body and striving to always do better!
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