How to Fix a Hip Shift in a Squat
Many athletes have a hip shift during their squats where they shift their body weight towards one side during the lift. This can often be a difficult and frustrating issue to resolve. In this video, we’ll break down how to fix a hip shift during squats by examining how pain, strength, and mobility can all contribute to this issue.
Many hip shifts during squats come from mobility deficits on one side of the body. See our Ultimate Mobility Checklist for more detailed assessments of your mobility.
Hip Shift in a Squat Transcript
Hey everyone, Zach and Pamela from PerformancePlusProgramming.com and today, we’re talking about fixing a hip shift during a squat. So if your squat looks like this, you’re going to want to take a look at the tips that we have for you. So notice how Pamela just squats down. You’re gonna see that the barbell is uneven, and her hips are clearly shifting towards the left side. We want to fix that hip shift, which can happen for a couple of different reasons.
The most common reason that I see, as a physical therapist, is individuals that are in pain. A lot of times your brain will want to protect you from that pain, so it will force you to shift to the side. You might not even notice that it’s happening. You might not even notice if your training partner’s pointed it out or if you look at a video of yourself, but it is often very hard to change a pain-derived hip shift in the spot until we actually address the pain.
So we need to get irritated tissues to calm down and then often you will see that hip shift correct itself. If you’re in a situation where you’re not in pain, you’ve rehabbed that already, but you’re still experiencing a hip shift, then there are two general categories that we tend to see a hip shift come from.
The first is a strength-derived hip shift. We see this a lot.
Here’s a case example of one athlete that I treated recently. The athlete had a giant hip shift in his squat. but the important thing to note in that individual squat was that it only happens when he approached maximal loading. When he was lifting over seventy-five percent of his one rep max. When he was at lighter weights, that hip shift didn’t exist.
What that would indicate, if you’re in that situation, is it is not a mobility limitation. Because mobility doesn’t care if it’s a lightweight or a heavyweight, but strength imbalances will. So essentially, this individual is getting up to a weight that overloaded his relatively weak quad strength on one side, and he ended up shifting his weight away from that side as he came out of the squad.
So that’s why when you see him stand up, he has that clear shift to the side because he tries to get the quad out of the way and then stand up. It’s essentially what we call a good morning squat pattern but it is only happening on one side. So again, if it changes as more weight is put onboard, it’s probably not mobility. It is probably strength and we need to decide where we are lacking strength in terms of quads, or, lower back, and we need to start building that up.
See this podcast for more details on diagnosing squat weaknesses.
Mobility Deficits Leading to a Hip Shift
If you have a hip shift, almost no matter what weights on the bar or what spot variation you’re doing, then we need to address your squat mobility. So we are going to look at the ankles and hip range of motion.
So let’s start with the ankles. Pamela’s going to pop one of her shoes off, and we are going to test this on both sides, but you need to be barefoot for this test.
We are going to get her big toe positioned one hand width away from this box. She’s going to put her hand up against the box, and get her big toe right up against her thumb. And I want to see that she has enough ankle mobility to touch her knee to the wall.
And we are going to compare that side to side and also make sure that as she does this, she’s coming straight forward and back. She’s not rotating her body as she comes forward. You’ll see some individuals, their knee will come in, and their hip will shift out as they do that. And that’s their way of cheating around stiff ankles. Make sure you’re going straight forward and back.
But there’s a different side to side very commonly that contributes to your hip shift in the squat. We are also going to look at hip joint mobility. So to test that, I will have Pamela lay on her back. This is better done with a partner than by yourself, and we will look at her hip rotation on each side. So I’m going to bend this leg up so that her knee is directly over her hip, and I will simply bring her leg in while maintaining that knee-over-hip position.
I’m going to look at how much hip external rotation of her hip she has and how much hip internal rotation she has. And we’re going to look at that on both sides and compare on both sides. And very often, you’ll notice that one of those hips has more or less one of those angles, and working on your mobility specifically to which is different and asymmetrical side to side will also often help correct that hip shift in the squat.
Hip Shift in a Squat Review
So, address pain, address any strength deficits, and then start looking at your mobility. When you run those tests, if you find any of those issues off, check out the different programs we offer at performanceplusprogramming.com. Everything from strength isolation programs to build up your quads, to build up your glutes, as well as mobility programs to address the hip mobility limitations that you may have found. Or the ankle mobility limitations and use those to help correct your hip shift.