Rolling For Hip Impingement

Ahh, the lost art of rolling around.

I often remember as a child rolling down a hill only to end up with a mouthful of grass and scrapes along my backside, thankfully this isn’t the type of rolling that I’m talking about. The ability to roll is often a lost art; because the coordination required to perform such a simple procedure correctly can have a tremendous effect on our nervous system. There is a saying that goes, “you have to crawl before you can walk”,likewise, you also “have to roll before you can rotate”. As shown by Gray Cook in a great research article, the ability to coordinate rolling has a great impact on our ability to rotate whilst upright (1).

The ability to rotate may seem trivial, but all forms of joint movement require some degree of rotation. Take for example running, even though you are moving your hips back and forth, your body needs to be able to coordinate your muscles to resist excess trunk rotation as you move. As well as this, in order to reach full hip extension you have to internally rotate your hips to some degree and in order to stop your knee caving in, your hips have to externally rotate.

Hip Impingement

Which brings me to hip impingement, it is caused by an impingement of the cartilage in the hip. It is quite a painful condition that can dramatically affect daily life and one of the many things that is often dysfunctional in those suffering from it, is hip rotation.

As a result of dysfunctional or poor hip rotation the joint capsule often becomes a bit unhealthy, which means that you get subpar information going back to the brain about movement etc. When you have subpar information going back your more likely to experience pain and other movement related issues. In FRC, when assessing the hip, there is the premise that lack of hip rotation means that there is no joint present. I.E there is a lack of joint independence and capsular space to classify it as a joint all on it’s own. Most of the time lack of hip rotation means that the hip moves in conjunction with the pelvis and lower back which is why we say there is no hip, because it is not able to act independently of these other joints (Joint Independence before Interdependence).

Where to start

If you are unable to coordinate your muscles properly during this movement, you may inadvertently overload the hip and cause further impingement. Check out this simple exercise, that can form part of an adequate rehab program. As well as this, by introducing some load into the hip from a safe position you are able to increase its capacity for handling more and more stress. (More stress handling ability= less likely to experience pain).

If you like it, then let me know about it, and don’t forget to share it with anyone who you think it may help!

Originally published in April 2016, republished and edited.


  1. Hoogenboom BJ, Voight ML, Cook G, Gill L. Using Rolling to Develop Neuromuscular Control and Coordination of the Core and Extremities of Athletes. North Am J Sports Phys Ther NAJSPT. 2009 May;4(2):70–82.

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