How that scary snapping feeling in the front of your pelvis can actually come from tight muscles

Hi everyone!

Okay, so here’s a topic that’s come up pretty often with readers… and it’s also one that’s affected me personally.

cartilaginous-joints-1

Sometimes this pain and snapping can mean that you have a somewhat serious issue that you need to attend to.  But sometimes, it can just be muscular.

So for your own peace of mind I want to tell you, personally, about the crazy symptoms I’ve had when some of these muscles get tight.

Ok… which muscles are we talking about?

The hip flexors are mainly responsible for hip flexion… aka raising your leg straight out in front of you.   They are the main actors when you move your leg forward to take a step.

There are actually two muscles which together make up the hip flexors, as you can see in this picture.  It’s the psoas major and the iliacus:

Anterior_Hip_Muscles_2

This picture also shows us the hip adductor group of muscles.

You can see in the picture that we have the adductor brevis, adductor longus, adductor magnus, gracilis, and the pectineus.

These muscles all work together to perform hip adduction, which essentially means moving our leg inwards towards the center of our body.

In my experience, tight hip flexors and tight hip adductors can actually cause pretty crazy sensations throughout the front of the pelvis.

For example, in the picture above, you can see how the hip adductors attach directly to the pubic bone.  When these muscles get tight on me, I have actually gotten some pretty crazy snapping sensations that have made me freak out and think I have pubic symphysis dysfunction.

Now, that’s not to say that my pubic symphysis has never moved out of alignment.

But there were a few times throughout my saga when I’d show up at my chiropractor’s office on the verge of tears, thinking there was something seriously wrong with my pubic symphysis, and he’d check it and say no… it was actually okay.

(And yes, having someone check it is slightly awkward, but when you’re in that much pain you really don’t care).

Pubic symphysis dysfunction can be very painful and debilitating in its own right.

But I want to reassure you that you can also have snapping right around the area of the pubic symphysis and have it actually be tight muscles.

Hip flexors

Similarly, when the hip flexors get tight, they can also cause painful snapping sensations and, sometimes, even produce a popping sound.

(Let’s go back to the iliacus and the psoas major once again):

Anterior_Hip_Muscles_2

However, rather than an issue in the actual hip socket, often people instead have what’s known as snapping hip syndrome.

In snapping hip syndrome, it’s actually the tendons that connect the hip flexors to the top of the thigh bone that end up producing that snapping sensation.  That’s because then the muscle belly of the hip flexors gets tight, it puts way more tension on the tendons, causing them to snap over the thigh bone instead of gliding the way they normally do.

Radiating pain

I have also had crazy radiating pain shoot up from my hip adductors, specifically.   It’s not just that they were tight in the area over the pubic symphysis.  Instead it’s that the whole muscle would be spasming, and I’d massage the muscle halfway down my thigh and get radiating pains up the front of my pelvis.

In a way, though, its actually a relief when this happens, because I personally would much rather have pain coming from a tight muscle or trigger point, than a problem with an actual joint.

So… this is not to say you shouldn’t get checked out, if you have concerns.

No… I don’t mean that at all.  My info here is definitely not a substitute for medical advice.

But… you can read this article if it helps you not to freak out in the meantime. Know that there’s a good chance the pain you’re feeling will turn out to be muscle spasms (aka easily fixable!).

How to fix tight muscles:

Determine the cause 

In my personal experience, usually these muscles get tight when I start doing a new exercise or something that tires them… and I start doing it a lot.

That experience definitely made me realize why my physical therapist made me promise to only start out only using MET once a day.

But basically, I backed off, and did a little extra stretching, and the problem mostly went away on its own.  (When it’s a short-lived problem like this, it actually can go away on its own, which is pretty shocking to those of us used to dealing with chronic SI joint dysfunction!).

Heat and/or Ice

However, you can also try using ice or heat on the area.  (In particular, you might want to try a moist heating pad— I’ve found they can be way more effective than the regular ones!).

Stretching

Stretching can help to relieve, as well as prevent, future muscle spasms. In my personal experience, once your muscle is really knotted up, stretching alone isn’t enough to reverse the process. Usually you’ll need to actually release the muscle first– see the massage section next.

However, once you have released any muscle knots, stretching can actually provide a huge benefit in improving your range of motion, and preventing the spasms from coming back.

Massage

If you want to get a regular massage therapist to help you with these muscles…  well, they can reach part of them.

Obviously a massage therapist is not going to be able to target your hip adductors where they attach to your pubic bone (you can check out pelvic floor PT for that!).

Okay… that’s all I’ve got for now!

As always, I hope this was helpful!  If you’re having any new or changing pain, it’s important to take it seriously … but also know that it could very well be muscular.  🙂

Best of luck!

Published by Christy Collins

Hi, I'm Christy! I'm a health coach who helps people overcome SI joint dysfunction and chronic pain.

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