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Whenever I try to do leg raises (or any other exercises that require the same movements of my hips), I get a very uncomfortable and sometimes completely irritating sensation, right about where my hip bone meets my pelvis.

I am a 15-year-old girl and am fairly flexible (can do my front splits but not my middle splits). It is not so much pain as irritation - sometimes it gets so irritating to the point where I see no point in continuing that exercise because I am not getting anything out of it (I do not feel the burn of the exercise, only the uncomfortable feeling of my pelvis constantly popping!).

For example, when doing sets of 20 leg raises, my pelvis would pop at least 10-15/20 times. Is there any way I can get this to stop? I would really like to be able to do those exercises without this occurring constantly!

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I get a popping/clicking sensation in my left hip joint when doing leg raises. It is also the side that tends to get the most easily irritated when doing squats with a wide stance, and I've had my share of knee pain on that leg. Then there's my right shoulder, which has consistently let out a crack with overhead movements for as long as I've known. Yet, neither of these things stands in the way of continued training, nor has it seemed to indicate some problem that has become worse.

Our bodies are far from perfect, consistent or even symmetrical. Just the anatomy of the acetabulofemoral joint shows a lot of variation. Some people have deep hip sockets, others more shallow. With some there is a large femoral neck angle, with others much sharper. That can lead to some things happening, like sounds, that other people don't seem to have. There can be any number of causes, like a ligament snapping over a joint.

What's important to determine is if it is an actual problem, or merely a small nuisance that doesn't necessarily develop into an issue. If continued training results in pain or a worsening of the phenomenon, you'll need to consult with a physician to help you and determine if there's some underlying problem, and if you can actually continue to train the movement. If however it's just kind of annoying, it might just be a thing you have to deal with.

On leg raises I find it helps if I do some outward rotation of the legs. That means, rotate your feet out, so they form a v-shape. Try varying angles to see if the problem resolves at any of them. I've likewise had success reducing constant shoulder popping on front raises by slightly adjusting my arm angle and making my hand a bit less pronated.

If the exercise just doesn't seem for you, there's alternatives to try. I've tried dips only twice in my life, and both times felt horribly wrong, beyond what some technique improvement would solve. So I don't do them. For leg raises, if you want to train the hip flexors, there's a lot of other exercises. Spread-eagle situps are pretty good. If you do leg raises for training your abdominal muscles, try to get less hip flexion in it and focus on contracting your abs to bring your hips and legs up, rather than rotating at the hips. That might also reduce the problem.

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  • Really good answer! I've always had knee problems (The cartilage and ligaments are all ruined from a sports injury), so I often find doing squats comes with irritations. I do, however, continue to do them since they aren't particularly painful.
    – David
    Jan 4 '17 at 13:04
  • @David These are tricky situations, as something might be wrong. So a visit to the doc to rule out certain things is always a good idea. In my case, squats seemed to have reduced the knee pain, which I suppose is the result of strengthening the surrounding tissues. Sometimes it comes back depending on squat technique and weight, but never as bad as when I went jogging or played too much DDR.
    – G_H
    Jan 5 '17 at 9:08
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G_H answered this very well. Just to stress a few points:

  • This happens to many people, so don't feel too worried
  • Because it does cause you discomfort, it's worth finding ways around the pop.
  • This MAY mean you'll benefit from minor adjustments in your workout, but should NOT stop you from getting a solid workout, from doing any activity, or from "being an athlete".

Things to try:

  • See what parts of the exercise cause the pop, and don't move through those components. (E.g. don't lower your leg past a certain angle)
  • Adjust your posture. I want to second G_L's tip to laterally rotate your leg so your foot is parallel with the floor, pointing away from you.
  • Also try this posture, and raise the leg you have on the floor. It slightly changes the muscle groups you're using, but it's still useful.
  • Worst case scenario, if you have access to a gym, you can get a fantastic workout with all the same muscles using a hip abductor and a hip flexor machine.

Sounds like you've got the right attitude, keep it up!

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