Snapping Hip


Also known as dancer’s hip.

Snapping hip is a condition when the hip makes an audible snapping or clicking noise as the hip moves through flexion and extension. It occurs most frequently in the 15-40 age group with a higher occurrence in the population participating in repetitive hip flexion and extension for e.g. dancing, soccer, running and gymnastics.

There are two types of snapping hip:

  1. External snapping hip.
  2. Internal snapping hip.

External snapping hip occurs when the illiotibial band/ tensor fascia latae/ gluteus medius tendon rubs over the greater trochanter as the hip is moves through flexion and extension. This happens because of the shortening of the structures mentioned above due to muscle imbalances or biomechanical faults. Often you will be able to feel, see and hear the actual snapping as you move your hip through flexion and extension.

Common causes are:

  • Tight ITB, glut muscles and the TFL.
  • Repetitive hip flexion and extension.
  • Weakness/excessive lengthening of the gluteal muscles.
  • Leg length differences.

Internal snapping occurs as you take your leg from a position of flexion abduction and external rotation and move into a position of extension internal rotation and adduction. Like sitting crossed legged and then standing up. Internal snapping hip will feel more like a clunk and involves the hip flexor illipsoas rubbing over a raised edge in your pelvis bone. Quite often it will involve a non painful clunk that will become quite painful and can develop in to a tendinopathy or bursitis.

Common causes are:

  • Tight lower back, illiopsoas originates from the lumbar spine.
  • Repetitive hip flexion and extension.
  • Sustained postures especially sitting at a desk.


Common symptoms include:

  • A snapping sound that you can see, feel and hear on the side of the hip.
  • Possible pain on the side of the hip.
  • Clunking deep inside the hip.
  • Pain in the groin.
  • May be combined with low back pain or tightness.


Because snapping hip can be caused by a multitude of factors treatment will very much depend on what is found on the assessment.

Physiotherapy treatment may consist of:

  • Assessment to determine the cause and type of snapping hip.
  • Stretches of the ITB/ gluteal muscles/ hip flexors.
  • Massage to the gluteus muscles/ ITB/hip flexors.
  • Mobility exercise and mobilisations of the lower back.
  • Core stability exercises.
  • Strengthening exercises for the hip stabilisers.
  • Postural education.
  • Bio-mechanical movement reeducation.
  • Work station ergonomics assessment.