Why Do My Hips Pop When I Do Pilates?

Q. When I do Single Leg Pull (scissor legs) there is popping sound in my hips as I lower my leg.   The same is true when I do the leg circles.  It isn’t painful as much as it is unnerving to have a continuous popping of the hip joint.  Any thoughts??

A: Thanks for writing! First of all, let me start by saying you are not alone in the “hip pops.” It’s a common complaint that I receive in classes and I know it can be a bit frustrating.  Although it is generally not harmful, I do recommend trying to adjust things a bit to limit the popping.

Here are few ideas:

1. Make your movement smaller. Draw a smaller circle with each leg circle and the same goes for Single Leg Pull – don’t “scissor” quite as dramatically with your legs – if you hear the pop then you’ve gone a bit too far. It’s hard to remember but bigger is not always better.


2. When performing Leg Circles or Single Leg Pull, think of moving from high up in the leg joint. For example, in Leg Circles, rather than dragging your leg around by the foot, picture the top of your femur (leg bone) deep in the socket, and rotating in place from there, your leg will simply follow. This mental practice can actually help you move differently and perform the exercise in better alignment


3. Focus on drawing in on your abs to stabilize your core while simultaneously releasing your hip joint.  Keep the belly tight, but then relax the hip enough to let the leg move freely in the joint. This will help provide freedom of movement.


Additional questions? Feel free to post them in the comments!

  1. Rachel Meyer 5 years ago

    I’m active. Run, Bike, , snowboard, Hike and some pilates here and there. AND every single time on those certain leg movements, by hip pops whether I mentally picture the movement beginning at the joint or not.) Sometimes and only sometimes does the smaller make it go away. I guess I just want to know if there are stretches or muscle strengthening to do to make it go away. Do we know the WHY of it? Why do some of ours pop and others do not? What is it an indicator of?

    Thanks ~

  2. Chelsea 4 years ago

    I just joined, and on this first video I had the popping sound, which I’ve been dealing with for years. I’ve spoken to multiple doctors and chiropracters about it and while everyone has a slightly different explanation for it, for me this is what it came down to.

    I’ve got a minor connective tissue disorder. My ligaments/tendons are stretchier then most (especially ball and socket joints) and they don’t always stop when they are supposed to, which means, it pops when it goes too far, because our joints aren’t held in place as tightly by our connective tissue. Getting that noise is a sign to stop that and try to adjust. Repeating the action that gets the popping noise its not good and leads to further instability of the joint.

    I’ve also been recommended to increase Vit. C intake and Vit D to help tighten up that connective tissue, and decrease sugar which leads to inflammation of tissues in your body. Then adjust the exercise that creates this noise so it doesn’t occur and try to build up the muscle around the joint to compensate.

  3. Lizzie Downes 4 years ago

    These tips are definitely going to help my in my Pilates practice – makes me feel a bit weird to hear my hip popping about in its joint!

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