The truth is I’m a crack addict. A hip crack addict that is…
Growing up in the ballet studio it was the norm to click, clunk, crunch, crack, snap, pop, and grind. It’s almost a rite of passage as a dancer, and when friends and family looked at me horrified and disgusted I’d shrug it off and say, “Oh, my body just does that!”.
It got to the point that I would do anything to get that crack, including rolling my hips into weird positions in public because “I needed it” and I knew the release afterwards would feel so good. While there are many different versions of clicks, clunks, crunches, cracks, snaps, and pops, I’m speaking of the type that you do specifically for. that. crack. Usually pulling your knee up to your chest and tilting to the side, flicking into turnout, or a quick, dodgy penché. I know you know the one!
The more I’ve learnt about the body, the more I’ve realised it’s something I should stop. For one, no, it’s not normal. When you wind yourself up to crack your hip, have you ever stopped to think about what is actually making that sound? Current research suggests you are disrupting the natural vacuum within the hip socket, slowly creating instability within the joint.
If you just had a momentary gleam in your eye, let me stop you right there…
Hip instability does not mean hip flexibility.
In fact, by decreasing the stability of your hip joint, you may even find that your muscles feel tighter as they work harder to provide stability for the joint, in the place of a strong, stable hip capsule. A stable hip capsule is important for long-term hip health as well as strength and mobility, especially in the movements required of a dancer (think grande battement, penché, retire, fan kicks, etc.). Recently, during a professional development meeting on treating dancer’s hips, I admitted to still cracking my hips. The next thing I knew I was the subject of an in-house experiment: hip crack rehab.
Caught in the act! Haydee calls me out on my relapse
And so it began. While it wasn’t always fun and I complained bitterly for a few weeks, I’ve come out the other side better off. This was my experience…
Maddie’s Hip Crack Diary
Week 1: Miserable. Going cold turkey. So hard not to crack! Kept accidentally cracking.
Week 2: Getting better at remembering not to crack. Hips feel stiff and I really want to crack!
Week 3: Got caught cracking my hip at work. Got told off. Still feeling stiffer than normal, although flexibility hasn’t changed.
Week 4: It’s getting easier not to crack! I don’t even feel like I want to as much.
Week 5: I accidently cracked when I went to pick something up and was so disappointed! Otherwise, crack free baby! Hips are feeling great.
Week 6: No hip cracking. Hips feel great. Building in more strengthening and noticing flexibility increasing without even trying.
Week 7: I’m reformed. I don’t want or need to crack anymore.
Week 8: Goodbye journal, I don’t need you anymore. Thanks Performance Med team for keeping me accountable (even though I hated it a little!).
Look after and love your hips. Give up the crack.
If you need help, guidance, or support to kick the habit, we are here for you. From one crack addict to another, it’s worth the three hard weeks.
Much love, from one recovered addict xx
Madeleine Hicks, Physiotherapist