Hip Pain while Driving? Do this!

chronic hip pain driving hip pain Apr 11, 2022
hip pain while driving

Does your hip feel off after driving? Maybe it feels stiff or tight.  Have you experimented with gadgets to improve your sitting position while driving? Or maybe you took it upon yourself to find creative positions to improve your hip pain while driving.  But to no avail! 

The hip still hurts after driving and you are looking for answers.  Well, fellow driving hipster, you’ve landed on the right article.  In this article,  I’ll provide actionable steps you can take on your next drive to improve the comfort level in your hips.  I’ll also explain why your hips might be hurting from driving in the first place and what you can do about it. 

Right Hip Pain while Driving 

If you are feeling more discomfort in the right hip while driving hip then it’s important to see what position your femurs (big thigh bones are in).  In these types of pain patterns, the right hip is usually much more rotated (as in example A below ) or much less rotated (as in example B below) than the left hip. 

Example A - right hip more externally rotated:

Example B - left hip more externally rotated:

The first step in resolving this issue is becoming more mindful of your hips while driving.  When you first get in the car, see if you can sit in a more balanced position (as in example C below).  This might feel strange at first but eventually your body will gladly adopt the more balanced position. 

Example C - balanced hips:

The second thing you can do is to add exercises that improve rotation balance in your hips.  This will help you become more aware of what hip rotation balance feels like.  And it will also improve both hips' ability to rotate more efficiently.  

A great exercise to experiment with is the supine butterfly hold.  This exercise teaches you how to maintain balance in the hips while you’re in external rotation. 

You can hold this position for a few minutes and do it multiple times a day.  It should not feel very intense so for most people, the more, the better.  But if it is uncomfortable for you then take it slow and keep it to once every day or every other day. 

Want to get new exercises in your inbox every week?  Sign up for my movement journal below to help you build healthier hips and a more consistent movement practice.  

How to fix Hip pain while driving  

Another common cause for hip pain while driving is having the femurs (long thigh bones) out to the sides too much.  In science-y speak, the femurs are too abducted and externally rotated.  Check out example D below. 

Example D - overly abducted hips driving 

Ideally, we’d like the hips to be closer to the midline of the body.   We want the hips more internally rotated and adducted. See Example E below. 

 Example E - More neutral femurs

It is very common to have hips out the side while driving.  Not everyone who sits in this position will experience hip discomfort.  However, if you are struggling with hip pain - whether while driving or at other times -  this can be an important discovery for you. 

By constantly having the hips in an externally rotated position, we are chronically shortening muscles in the lateral hip.   By doing exercises that strengthen the opposing muscles (responsible for internal rotation and adduction), you might be able to start addressing the root cause of your hip pain. 

Below is an exercise to start strengthening these opposing movements.  Level 1 improves mainly just adduction and level 2 improves adduction and internal rotation.  It’s important to start with level 1 as this builds the foundation for all future internal rotation work.  

Try the first progression first for a few minutes a day.  Once you that gets easier and you feel more confident, walk the feet away from each other to target more internal rotation. 

Closing Thoughts on Driving with Hip Pain 

Becoming mindful of what our hips are doing throughout the day is an awesome habit to integrate.  But, it is unlikely that this alone will get rid of chronic hip pain. 

Our bodies take on certain positions because they are more comfortable.  And if the muscles around our hips had better strength and balance than our bodies would naturally adopt healthier positions.   

You drive in a certain way because of weak and unstable hips, not the other way around.  And if it's not driving, then something else would likely aggravate your hips.  The path forward is to start building strong and resilient hips that can handle much more than just driving. 

A great place to start is my free hip starter course.  It's the perfect way to jump start your recovery out of hip pain.  Get started today!