Stop Pain In Front Of Hip Joint Near Groin When Walking

Do You Get Pain In Front Of The Hip Joint When Walking?

Watch this video to learn 3 causes of pain in front of the hip joint near your groin. Plus, learn how to stop them so that you can walk more comfortably.

7 Simple Tips To Get Rid Of Hip Pain by Dr. Dave Candy, More 4 Life Physical Therapy, St. Louis, MO

What Causes Pain In Front Of The Hip Joint Near The Groin?

There are many different things that can cause pain in front of the hip joint, and not all of them are from the joint itself.

Causes of Pain In Front Of The Hip Joint Near The Groin include:

  1. Joint problems -  hip arthritis or labral tears.
  2. Muscle problems - usually the hip flexors
  3. Nerve problems - L2 nerve root or femoral nerve

In this post, I'll the first two of these because an L2 nerve root problem is back problems, and that really requires an in-person assessment to figure out what's wrong and what the proper course of treatment is.

So let's start out with joint causes of hip pain when walking, the most common of which is hip arthritis.

Pain In Front Of Hip Joint Near Groin From Hip Arthritis

When you're taking a step while walking, the entire weight of  your upper body is pushing through the hip joint of your stance leg.

Your hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint.  However, because of the way that the socket is oriented, if your pelvis tips forwards, to the side, or rotates toward the leg you're standing on, that can narrow the available joint space in the hip.

If  you have hip arthritis, that joint space is already narrowed to begin with.  So you have less of a margin of error for imprecise movement than someone without hip arthritis.

Osteoarthritis can cause pain in front of hip joint near groin while walking

That narrowing of the joint space can cause pain in front of the hip joint near the groin when you're walking.

Fortunately though, you have muscles on the outside of your hips, your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, that help take some pressure off of the hip joint.

Walking causes of pain in front of the hip joint

If your pelvis tips over to the side when walking, it's going to create more pressure on the hip joint.

pelvic drop can cause pain on front of hip joint near groin when walking

Additionally, if your thigh internally rotates, that will also put more pressure on the hip joint.

hip internal rotation can cause pain on front of hip joint near groin when walking

So you need to be able to balance on one leg without your knee going inwards or without your pelvis dropping to the side.

Exercise to relieve pain in front of the hip joint

A good exercise to practice that is simply just to practice standing on one leg with your pelvis level and your knee pointing straight ahead.

Now, if you have some weakness in the outer hip muscles, that may cause groin pain and it may be hard for you to walk without letting your knee go inward.

Additionally it may be difficult even just to practice standing that way.

That's where using a cane can be helpful, both for the exercise of standing on one leg as well as walking.

If you have hip arthritis on your x-ray but your pain in on the outer side of your hip, that pain is probably not from the actual hip joint arthritis itself.

However, strengthening those outer hip muscles can help stop the front of hip pain if you're having it.

So when you're balancing on one leg, if you need a little bit of assistance, you can either hold onto a chair or hold onto a cane.

Make sure to think about keeping your knee turned outwards to the side.

In reality, you're not going to turn it outward. However, by thinking about turning it outwards, you're going to prevent it from twisting inwards.

Additionally, you want to focus on keeping your beltline level with the floor.

How to walk without pain in front of hip joint by using a cane

If you have front of hip pain when walking, you can start out by using a cane.

Hold the cane in the opposite hand of the side of your hip pain. Then move the cane at the same time as the sore leg.

How To Use A Cane To Walk - Free Body Diagram 2

I know that sounds counterintuitive. However, this way the cane assists your hip muscles to keep your pelvis from tipping to the side.

So that's the first cause of hip joint pain. And again, you can stop it is by strengthening your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.  In the short term, you can also use a cane to walk until your hip muscles get stronger.

Pain In Front Of Hip Joint From Hip Flexors

The second cause of pain in front of the hip is from the hip flexors.

The iliopsoas can cause pain in front of the hip joint when walking.

You have the iliopsoas muscle, which runs from your spine down through the hip and attaches near the hip joint.

The iliopsoas can actually put some pressure on the nerve roots in your back. Some of the upper lumbar nerve roots - L1, L2, L3 - can also refer pain into the front of the hip.

As far as the muscle itself though, the iliopsoas tendon runs right in front of the hip joint.

One of your quadricep muscles, your rectus femoris, also attaches right above the hip joint.  This is another potential source of pain in the front of your hip when walking.

The rectus femoris can cause pain in front of hip joint near groin

Interestingly, you can get hip flexor pain either from having too much flexibility in your hip flexors, or if they're too stiff.

So for the case where they're too flexible, that often occurs in thinner, more flexible people who have a lot of hypermobility.

Typically, you would get that if you take really long steps when you're walking and your leg goes way behind you.

Additionally, if you tend to pull forwards with your front leg, you use more of your hamstrings for hip extension.

Because your hamstrings attach to your pelvis as well as down below your knee, they don't have a direct attachment to your hip joint.

Therefore, as you extend your leg backwards like that by using your hamstrings, it causes the ball of the hip to actually glide forward in the socket.

Anterior glide of the hip can cause pain in front of hip joint near the groin

This forward glide of the hip can put pressure on the iliopsoas bursa or the iliopsoas tendon itself.

In this case, stretching your hip flexor isn't a good idea!

Even though it's the source of the pain, when you stretch, you're just jamming the ball of the hip joint more forward in the socket into the tendon that's already sore and inflamed.

How to relieve front of hip pain from iliopsoas strain when walking

What you really want to do is learn to use your gluteal muscles.

In this case, it's not your gluteus medius, the muscles on the side, but your gluteus maximus, your butt muscle in the back of your hip.

Gluteus maximus medius TFL IT band

Because the gluteus maximus attaches close to the hip joint, it sucks the ball back into the socket and can prevent pain in front of the hip.

When you're walking, instead of pulling forward with your front leg, think about pushing off using the toes of the back leg. This helps activate your gluteus maximus.

exercise for walking - gluteus maximus squeeze during push off

Additionally, shortening your stride slightly can prevent you from getting excessive hip extension in your back leg.

Learn more about how to improve your walking in this post.

Instantly Improve Walking Gait & Walking Speed

Front Of Hip Pain From Tight Hip Flexors

The next cause of pain in the front of your hip is just the opposite as the previous one.

If your hip flexors are too stiff, this can also cause front of hip pain.

This may happen when you first stand up from sitting for a while.

You may feel some stiffness in your hips or like it's kind of hard to loosen up your stride and get your full stride going.

In that case, the hip pain isn't usually super sharp, but it may just feel stiff or achy in the front parts of your hip.

In that case, you do want to stretch your hip flexors.

An easy way to stretch your hip flexors when standing is to put one leg backward and the other one forwards.

Then you want to roll your pelvis underneath you.

Next, push off of your back foot and squeeze your glutes to push your hips forward.

hip flexor stretch standing


You should feel a stretch on the front of the hip and and thigh.

Hold the stretch for about 60 seconds.

Then when you go to walk, you still want to focus on pushing off using your glutes and pushing off the toe of the rear foot.


To summarize, the three causes of hip pain are weak hip abductors, which can cause hip joint pain.

The second cause having too much hip extension where the ball of the hip glides too far forward in the socket.

Finally, the third cause is stiff hip flexors.

Need Help For Pain In Front Of The Hip Joint?

If you live in the St. Louis area and need help for hip pain, we'd be happy to help you. Just tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.

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