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Hip pain in Martial Arts


Hip pain is one of the most common injuries found in martial arts. The reason for this is that martial arts require mastering techniques which, in turn, requires a significant amount of repetition and loading through the hip. Any martial artist who trains hard opens themselves up to acute injuries to the hip or cumulative related training injuries/trauma. Most weeks in martial arts, you are rarely training pain-free, thus most athletes will train through niggly injuries. This will subsequently open the athlete up to cumulative related injuries.

Hip injuries from overuse activity can lead to extra-articular soft tissue injuries, and intra-articular injuries are often labral tears or chondral damage. Hip labral tears can be quite common and high in martial arts as this injury can happen from repetitive movements or a specific traumatic event. Another common injury is athletes having femoral acetabular impingements (FAI). FAI has three forms which are the cam morphology, pincer lesion, or combined types that cause abnormal loading and irritation of the labrum. This pain is worsened when throwing kicks commonly or in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when submissions and in guard defense. However, most people who have FAI don’t know they have it and is usually discovered via MRI when hunting for the labral tear.

Common symptoms in any hip pain are generic anterior hip pain and occasional pain in the groin. This can also indicate possible groin tears at the insertion site at the pubic ramus which must be noted. Hip pain can be hard to distinguish, thus a proper objective and subjective assessment is vital in the diagnosis of the injury.

Diagnosis of this is hard, however, necessary in the management of the condition. This is a difficulty due to the complex anatomy around the hip. This makes finding the reason for the pain hard as pain can come from the joint capsule, abnormal mechanics of the joint (FAI), nerve entrapment, referred pain from the lumbar spine, and gluteal tendon tears. As a tear in the labrum could lead to arthroscopic surgery, finding an accurate diagnosis is key.

The diagnostic imaging required is usually X-rays for fractures and to determine arthritis e.g. narrowing of the joint space, and MRI to determine stress fractures, soft tissue damage, bursitis, ligament tears, and/or muscle tears.

If you have any of these symptoms below please seek advice from a therapist:

  • Inability to weight bear through a painful hip
  • Painful catching or clicking with rotation at the hip
  • Pain that stops training
  • Pain that doesn’t change after a few days

The hip is a very complex structure and has to be accurately diagnosed. If you have niggly hip pain that doesn’t seem to be settling down, it would be a good idea to see a physiotherapist to determine the extent of the issue.

Our physiotherapist Vinod has experience in treating martial art conditions. Click here to find out more about what he can offer.

If you would like to book in for an initial appointment click here.

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