Do your hips hurt during squats? How about when you run? Or Walk? If so, then you may be a victim of anterior femoral glide syndrome.
Often mistaken for hip flexor pain or tightness, this little annoyance can cause big problems for your lifts.
In this post, we are going to discuss what anterior femoral glide syndrome is and how to correct it.
What is Anterior Femoral Glide Syndrome?
The hip joint is the shoulder of the lower body. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, just like the hip.
The major difference, however, is that the hip is more secure than the shoulder. This does not make it immune to injury, unfortunately.
If we recall, a ball and socket joint is the most mobile type of joint in the body. It can move in multiple planes of motion and even glide slightly forwards or backwards.
The tradeoff for this type of mobility is a higher risk for injury.
Anterior femoral glide syndrome is a type of movement imbalance where the head of the femur (the ball) drifts too far forward in the socket.
Under normal movement conditions, the femur is supposed to stay centered in the socket as much as possible. It is also supposed to glide both forwards and backwards when necessary.
When this happens, individuals can experience pain, swelling and hear a clicking sound in their hip when they walk. They will also have a hard time performing squats, running, jumping and even walking.
If you have this condition, stop performing exercises that aggravate your hip. You will only make it worse.
Read on to figure out what to do.
Fixing Anterior Femoral Glide Syndrome
Luckily, fixing this condition is actually pretty simple.
However, you must understand what is happening in the hip first in order to fix it.
Typically, anterior femoral glide syndrome is caused by either a muscle imbalance in the hip, poor mobility, poor flexibility or poor motor patterns.
This is typically the most common cause of anterior femoral glide syndrome. Muscle imbalances occur all of the time when we are not aware of how our body works.
In a mechanically sound body, the psoas muscle and the glutes should be about equal in strength. In modern times, however, this is rarely the case. Most individuals have excessively tight psoas muscles and weak undertrained glutes.
This causes the pelvis to be anteriorly tilted. When the pelvis is anteriorly tilted, the range of motion of hip flexion is hindered, this causes the femoral head to drift forward in order to compensate.
Anterior tilt also occurs when the muscles of the lower back are tight and the deep abdominal muscles are weak.
The lower back muscles pull the pelvis up from behind and the abdominal muscles pull the pelvis muscles up from the front. An imbalance between these two muscle groups also causes anterior femoral glide.
So by strengthening our deep abdominal muscles and our glutes we can help to counteract the anterior pelvic tilt.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention lifestyle habits.
Sitting down for long periods of time causes the femoral head to move up anteriorly in the socket. It also causes anterior pelvic tilt.
Since most people sit for a living, let me say this. If you keep sitting all slouched over, don’t expect to eliminate anterior femoral glide anytime soon.
You can strengthen the glutes and abs all you want and it will all be in vain.
Your seated and postural habits are the trump card in deciding how fast you eliminate this condition. Do yourself a favor and sit up straight. Your lifts depend on it!
Another, but not so common, cause of anterior femoral glide is poor mobility in the posterior hip socket. This is not a spontaneous condition.
By spontaneous, I mean that it doesn’t just happen randomly.
Having poor posterior capsule mobility is usually the result of having the femoral head drift too far forward in the first place.
Sitting down too much, having muscle imbalances and poor flexibility all contribute to this. So this is not a stand alone problem. It has to be treated with the other issues in order to have effect.
Some basic mobility work will do the trick.
This is where things start to get interesting. Most individuals who perform hip dominant movements, such as the deadlift, view their hip extension as very strong. Well, the are right, but they are also wrong.
Their are two primary muscle groups that are responsible for hip extension, the glutes and the hamstrings.
The glutes are high up on the hip and cover the back of the pelvis and the hamstrings run along the back of the legs and attach to the bottom of the pelvis.
Differing positions are not their only difference, however. The glutes act directly with the femoral head, keeping it securely in the socket. The hamstrings interact with the pelvis itself and not with the femur directly.
If the glutes become too weak or the hamstrings become too tight, then the femur can drift forward at will. Thus causing posterior capsule stiffness and anterior femoral glide.
All athletes should include some form of flexibility training in their regular training regimen, regardless of injury. With anterior femoral glide, however, extra time should be spent on stretching the hamstrings.
Poor Motor Patterns
Let’s face it, some of us just move terribly. Poor mechanics are probably what set anterior femoral glide in motion for most people. So what do I mean by mechanics? Well, simply put, the way we walk.
Remember how the glutes stabilize the femoral head? Well if you are not walking the right way, then the glutes become inactive.
Ok, so how are we supposed to walk?
Heel to toe.
It’s as simple as that. When we land with our heel on the ground, we are supposed to roll our feet from our heel over to our big toe. This sets in motion the neurological response to fire the glutes.
Lots of people are not heel strikers, however. There are plenty of people who strike the ground in the middle of the foot, or by the balls of the feet. For more information about this, check out the Morton’s Toe article.
In certain situations this may be necessary and overall it is not going to kill you. Habits form very quickly for some people and if they make a habit out of poor walking mechanics, then everything else will follow.
The way you squat, jump and run are all connected to your everyday walking stance.
Little things like this add up over time and wreak havoc on the body.
If we knew better we would do better. Now that you know what to do, there is no excuse. Fix yourself up and train on!