Hip pain
August 2023,  Bodycare,  COACH,  Coach Cassie,  EXTRA,  FEATURES,  Features,  HEALTH,  Top Tips,  Training and Technique,  You Ask, We Answer

What’s the cause of my hip pain while swimming?

Swimming coach Cassie Patten troubleshoots a reader’s hip pain, and shares some tips for preventing further discomfort

“I’m a 47-year-old swimmer. I started swimming open water last year and I’ve done three events. I’m swimming Coniston End to End this season. I’ve been training hard in the pool for about two years and specifically for Coniston for the past six months.

I seem to have developed hip pain which was not there before. I’ve started an online hip rehab programme but it’s hard to find swimming-specific advice on this. I’m not sure how much to rest, scale back or stop to allow a full recovery after my next event. I feel like I’ve been battering my body for a long time. But I know resting completely is not a good idea either.

I have a small and thin build. My goal is to do the right thing by my body so I can enjoy swimming and long distance events for many years to come.”

Thanks, Lorna

Swimming coach Cassie Patten answers

Thank you for your question. It’s hard to know exactly what is causing the hip pain without seeing you swim or knowing what part of the hip is hurting so I am going to give you a couple of different options of what it could be and how to help.

Option 1

Your hips are not rotating efficiently. When rotating you want to think about all your body from your collar bones to your big toes rotating around your centre line.

To clarify, your centre line in front crawl is the middle point of your rotation. It is situated through the middle of your body from the top of your skull, down your spine and extends down between your legs. All rotating actions comes from around that axis.

What may be happening is you are either under or over rotating your hips. You want to have approximately 90 degrees of rotation in total.

A nice way to picture this is if your belly button is in line with the bottom, I call that the neutral position, or 6 o’clock on a clock face. You want 45 degrees either side, so rotate your belly button to 5 / 7 o’clock. By doing that you allow your whole body to rotate as one and don’t put any excess pressure on your lower back and hips.

As well as working on this in the water I also recommend strengthening your core, as this helps to ensure the rotation is not being created through forcing the action with your hips.

Pilates is great to help with this. Here is a little routine you can do at home to help develop core strength:

Option 2

You are rotating your top half well but you have an inefficiency in your kick. When swimming you want your kick to follow your hips; therefore there is a rotating action to your kick and it is not purely an up down action.

I have made a video (below) explaining the biomechanics of the kick, where you will notice the movement of the legs works with the rotation of the hips.

I would finally recommend seeing a swimming coach, as they will be able to determine
if it is an issue with your stroke that is creating the hip pain, or if it is unrelated.

I really hope that helps and your hips feel better soon.

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Abi writes swimming news stories and features for the Outdoor Swimmer website and manages the social media channels. She loves to swim, run, hike and SUP close to her home in Herefordshire. While she’s a keen wild swimmer, Abi is new to the world of open water events and recently completed her first open water mile. She has previously written for BBC Countryfile Magazine, BBC History Magazine and Ernest Journal.