Hip Impingement & Labral Tear with Surgical Repair, Mobility is the Real Solution

What is your story about?
I'm currently 29 years old. My first tear occurred at age ~20, and I had surgery to correct it at 23. My second tear was at 26, and I decided not to get additional surgery. I now believe there's no quick fix to "impingement", and the pain I had felt was my body telling me I needed to change how I trained. It's been three years now of focusing on better movement & mobility and I've never felt better.
What symptoms did you experience?
An aching pain. The swelling in my hip generally delocalizes the pain, so it's more dull than sharp. The first tear occurred at age ~20.
What was your diagnosis process like?
I had a negative x-ray, so don't read too much into it. MRI showed tears on both sides even though only one was symptomatic.
When was your surgery?
5 years ago when I was 23. I had my left labrum snipped and the bones reshaped to fix impingement.
How was your recovery from the surgery?
At first, there was a lot of relief. The daily pain, swelling and stiffness before the surgery was hell. I was young, athletic, impatient and I wanted the quick fix. I got what I wanted: recovery was a breeze and I was back in 3-4 months to full activity. Hoorah! I managed to tear it again three years later at age 26 because I assumed my problem was fixed.
How did you respond to the second tear?
The second tear forced me to reflect a bit more. Hadn't the doctor reshaped the bone to prevent this from happening? Wasn't I told I had poor bone structure and I NEEDED the surgery? What the hell else can I do? I was left with a lot of questions. Truth be told, the second tear was a blessing in disguise. I elected against a second surgery and I couldn't be happier. I now firmly believe there's no quick fix to "impingement." The pain I had felt was my body telling me I needed to move better, work on mobility, quit punishing myself with the same movements over and over. It's been three years n ...(more)
What advice would you give others in this position?
Hammer the mobility and keep the hips as fluid as possible. Don't ever, ever, ever neglect a proper warmup. Keep in mind that these tears didn't come out of nowhere — whether it's bone structure, overworking, lack of mobility, etc., the last thing you want is another tear, so look for the root of the problem and address that if you can. I think of my impingement and pain now as a warning sign now that I'm not taking care of my hips. I was frustrated to no end and nearly quit exercising entirely for a year. Stay strong and remember that learning to take care of your joints now, no matter now ...(more)
What's your favorite mobility drill for warmup?
The absolutely best exercise is banded lateral hip distraction with internal & external rotation. See here: Use this before and after your workouts. Give the groin a quick roam roll as well. The idea is to give the hips a bit more breathing room before any mobility/exercise, then move through the increased range of motion.
What's your complete warmup routine?
  • glute bridge (banded) x 15
  • side plank clamshells (banded) x 10/side
  • supine hip flexor marches (banded) x 5/leg: hold 3 seconds at full hip flexion
  • single leg glute bridges
  • 10 kg plate goblet squat (banded) x 5: barefoot, place band around arches of feet and activate lateral glutes, perform groin PAILS at bottom of each squat
  • 90/90 dynamic stretching x 10 each side: in 90/90 position, lean forward onto ER hip (2 seconds), rotate back leg/IR hip down to ground and reach for back knee (2 seconds), roll back and forth between IR/ER (x ...
Overall, would you recommend this surgery?
I have mixed feelings about the first surgery but overall I do not recommend it. This isn't to say I would never recommend surgery. Many tears I'm sure are not treatable with just better movement. However, I think the first line of action should be rehab and intense mobility work. At the very least, one option can be ruled out. I'm now forever cursed with uneven hips unless I want to operate on my right side as well (which, by the way, also showed a tear on my initial MRI).