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Nerve damage from heavy hip thrusting?

EmbeeKayEmbeeKay Posts: 231Member Member Posts: 231Member Member
I’ve been doing hip thrusts for a year with 50 pound dumbbells, but about two months ago we got a barbell and plates, and I was able to significantly increase the weight of my hip thrusts. I am using a barbell pad. Since beginning to use the barbell, I often notice an annoying (not painful) nerve twinge on the front of my upper left leg during my hip thrusts. (Sometimes I’m able to help it go away by wiggling the bar around- however, I do think the bar is in the right place when the nerve twinge is happening.) I’ve also noticed a gradual loss of feeling in the front of my left leg – same place. I only made this connection this past weekend- that the loss of feeling has come on gradually since beginning heavy barbell hip thrusts. Has anyone noticed this? Even though it’s been a fairly short time, I’ve seen really good glute growth with this exercise, but I’m wondering if I need to stop, or just let my body adjust on its own, or what.
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Replies

  • lorrpblorrpb Posts: 9,665Member Member Posts: 9,665Member Member
    I would stop or back off the weight. Loss of feeling in your leg is not something to take a risk on.
  • DancingMoosieDancingMoosie Posts: 4,060Member Member Posts: 4,060Member Member
    I haven't had this. Maybe you need a thicker pad or change where you place the bar. Back off the weight a little and add reps and see if that helps.
  • sardelsasardelsa Posts: 7,107Member Member Posts: 7,107Member Member
    What kind of bar pad are you using? I never had what you are experiencing, but I did get bruising and sores due to the weight and friction when I used a thinner pad. Now I use a Squat Sponge and it really helps, even when the weight gets up there and I'm doing higher reps.

    In the meantime loss of feeling sounds serious. Definitely back off the weight.. maybe move the bar down more, use bands to add resistance and do higher rep maybe? Or go back to dumbbell.
  • EmbeeKayEmbeeKay Posts: 231Member Member Posts: 231Member Member
    I'm using a GymSheep Squat Bar Pad (this one- https://www.amazon.com/Barbell-Lifting-Shoulder-Protection-Standard/dp/B01MY2EBOX).

    It's frustrating. I feel the twinge whether it's 135 or 255. And it doesn't hurt... that's why it didn't concern me until I put two and two together. I hate to ditch a really useful exercise but my husband sounded alarmed when I told him- so I don't want to be stupid. I'll mess around with the bar positioning some more.
  • EmbeeKayEmbeeKay Posts: 231Member Member Posts: 231Member Member
    What kind of doctor would I see for this?
  • __TMac____TMac__ Posts: 1,636Member Member Posts: 1,636Member Member
    I'd just start with your GP, or a sports medicine specialist.
  • jemhhjemhh Posts: 14,257Member Member Posts: 14,257Member Member
    Very interesting, OP. If you decide to go back to hip thrusting or a variant after you heal, I wonder if switching to glute bridges might help. They're so similar but I am wondering if having your back on the floor might all the bar to be in a slightly different spot than it is when you are hip thrusting. It might not work but it might be worth a try. Hope that you heal quickly and fully!

  • mutantspicymutantspicy Posts: 624Member Member Posts: 624Member Member
    EmbeeKay wrote: »
    Hey everyone, just wanted to update here. I still have little to no feeling in about an 8” portion of my lateral thigh. After the responses on this thread, I stopped barbell hip thrusting, and I saw a rehab doctor yesterday. I explained the situation to him, he did an exam, and he very confidently diagnosed me with lateral femoral cutaneous neuropathy (Aka “meralgia paraesthetica”). Basically, the barbell has been resting on the femoral nerve (which is a sensory nerve, thankfully not a motor function nerve). The weight of the barbell over time basically damaged the nerve. He said it was the first time he had seen this condition due to weightlifting – he said he usually sees it in obese or pregnant patients whose bellies are pressing down on that nerve, or due to occupational reasons, like a police officer’s belt being worn too tightly. He said that since I had been hip thrusting for a while, I have probably damaged the nerve pretty badly, but he was optimistic that feeling would eventually return as nerves do regenerate and reattach. He showed me a diagram of where the femoral nerve sits on the pelvis - right where I had been resting the bar. (Again though, I only experienced this on my left leg and not my right.) It’s interesting to me that hip thrusting is so common but I have not read about this anywhere else. I’m wondering if I am positioning the bar wrong- then again, it seems like I am holding it in the same place I see everyone else holding it on their videos.

    My plan going forward is to wait for feeling to return and then very carefully experiment with the bar positioning. Until then I can do other non-barbell variations. I just find this so interesting, and so odd, because if you look at a diagram of the femoral nerve, it seems like anyone doing this exercise would be resting the bar where I did.

    Thank you again to everyone for your input!

    I was going to suggest this, glad you figured it out. I have the same issue with the femoral nerve after losing some weight, meaning less padding, I now have to be careful with tight underwear, belts, how I sleep, etc. Good luck, these things are usually temporary but yeah I don't know the work around, because you're putting the bar in the proper spot. I've been doing hip thrust with dumbells it hasn't caused me any additional issues for me. Maybe because of surface area, maybe a wider pad or lay a weight lifting belt across your hips to try spread the load. I dunno how that would work. Or perhaps use one of those tricep bars, so you spread the load across the thigh and belly rather right on the hip.
    edited April 2018
  • heybalesheybales Posts: 16,253Member Member Posts: 16,253Member Member
    Great info. Now I have a likely reason for numb feeling on skin in certain areas of thighs.
    Backpacking.

    And confirmation that wait and see is only thing to be done. I figured it was.

    Your nerves can also be a slightly different place, and compression taking place cause slightly different problems.

    And why it can even change over the years.
  • mutantspicymutantspicy Posts: 624Member Member Posts: 624Member Member
    heybales wrote: »
    Great info. Now I have a likely reason for numb feeling on skin in certain areas of thighs.
    Backpacking.

    And confirmation that wait and see is only thing to be done. I figured it was.

    Your nerves can also be a slightly different place, and compression taking place cause slightly different problems.

    And why it can even change over the years.

    I thought it was my compression shorts I use for walking, hiking and lifting. But the thing helped the most, is getting up and walking around a lot more while at work, I was pinching it the way I was sitting. But mainly, I had to stop sleeping on my left side. Which is a chore. Anyway, its most likely something in your routine that is happening for long periods of time. If you have a desk job or some kind repetitive thing going. As the OP pointed out, her case is rare but I can totally see it happening. I was like yep yep, femoral nerve. Its new to me too. Started just under a year ago, and continued to get worse. Its still there but a lot better since making those changes.
  • __TMac____TMac__ Posts: 1,636Member Member Posts: 1,636Member Member
    Thanks for returning to update us! Interesting stuff. Hope it clears up quickly.
  • EmbeeKayEmbeeKay Posts: 231Member Member Posts: 231Member Member
    EmbeeKay wrote: »
    Hey everyone, just wanted to update here. I still have little to no feeling in about an 8” portion of my lateral thigh. After the responses on this thread, I stopped barbell hip thrusting, and I saw a rehab doctor yesterday. I explained the situation to him, he did an exam, and he very confidently diagnosed me with lateral femoral cutaneous neuropathy (Aka “meralgia paraesthetica”). Basically, the barbell has been resting on the femoral nerve (which is a sensory nerve, thankfully not a motor function nerve). The weight of the barbell over time basically damaged the nerve. He said it was the first time he had seen this condition due to weightlifting – he said he usually sees it in obese or pregnant patients whose bellies are pressing down on that nerve, or due to occupational reasons, like a police officer’s belt being worn too tightly. He said that since I had been hip thrusting for a while, I have probably damaged the nerve pretty badly, but he was optimistic that feeling would eventually return as nerves do regenerate and reattach. He showed me a diagram of where the femoral nerve sits on the pelvis - right where I had been resting the bar. (Again though, I only experienced this on my left leg and not my right.) It’s interesting to me that hip thrusting is so common but I have not read about this anywhere else. I’m wondering if I am positioning the bar wrong- then again, it seems like I am holding it in the same place I see everyone else holding it on their videos.

    My plan going forward is to wait for feeling to return and then very carefully experiment with the bar positioning. Until then I can do other non-barbell variations. I just find this so interesting, and so odd, because if you look at a diagram of the femoral nerve, it seems like anyone doing this exercise would be resting the bar where I did.

    Thank you again to everyone for your input!

    I was going to suggest this, glad you figured it out. I have the same issue with the femoral nerve after losing some weight, meaning less padding, I now have to be careful with tight underwear, belts, how I sleep, etc. Good luck, these things are usually temporary but yeah I don't know the work around, because you're putting the bar in the proper spot. I've been doing hip thrust with dumbells it hasn't caused me any additional issues for me. Maybe because of surface area, maybe a wider pad or lay a weight lifting belt across your hips to try spread the load. I dunno how that would work. Or perhaps use one of those tricep bars, so you spread the load across the thigh and belly rather right on the hip.

    Thanks guys. Yeah, the doctor didn’t seem appalled when I asked if I could do them again in the future. He suggested more padding, different positioning. We will see. I’m going to try to get an epic squat in the meantime. B) And I know there are lots of different things I can try. (Bridges are good, but if I load the bar too much I feel like it’s just pressure in my arms trying to hold it up- you know?)
    edited April 2018
  • mrsmeteormrsmeteor Posts: 16Member Member Posts: 16Member Member
    I saw hip thrusting and clicked, but the thread was not what I was expecting :)
  • smolmaussmolmaus Posts: 412Member Member Posts: 412Member Member
    I appreciate this update post very much as I have exactly the same issue and I couldn't for the life of me find any info online when it happened (wasn't on these forums yet!).

    Left leg only, numb quad and starts to get aggravated about the same weight as well actually. Mine only started when my bar pad slipped round and the barbel put pressure directly on the nerve though so it wasn't a gradual thing. The leg works fine, it just "fizzes" at me sometimes when I overextend my hip joint lol It's the weirdest feeling!

    I sometimes see women on Bret Contreras' instagram using the foam yoga mats under the barbel (doubled up) to get more padding when they're doing heavy reps which is what I'm considering for when I want to add more weight in future. It looks really awkward but you'd definitely get more load spread than with a regular barbel pad.

  • EmbeeKayEmbeeKay Posts: 231Member Member Posts: 231Member Member
    smolmaus wrote: »
    I appreciate this update post very much as I have exactly the same issue and I couldn't for the life of me find any info online when it happened (wasn't on these forums yet!).

    Left leg only, numb quad and starts to get aggravated about the same weight as well actually. Mine only started when my bar pad slipped round and the barbel put pressure directly on the nerve though so it wasn't a gradual thing. The leg works fine, it just "fizzes" at me sometimes when I overextend my hip joint lol It's the weirdest feeling!

    I sometimes see women on Bret Contreras' instagram using the foam yoga mats under the barbel (doubled up) to get more padding when they're doing heavy reps which is what I'm considering for when I want to add more weight in future. It looks really awkward but you'd definitely get more load spread than with a regular barbel pad.

    Interesting. Yes, the doc recommended using more padding. He actually kept saying, “Try using a bridge,” and I was wondering if that was an actual thing I should look up. I certainly know that my pad was not upside down because that happened once and ouch! I knew it. Not because of my nerve but because that bar was painful. :#
  • EmbeeKayEmbeeKay Posts: 231Member Member Posts: 231Member Member
    Bret Contreras (before he wrote his now famous book) used to advocate heavily (pardon the pun) for heavy kettlebell swings as one of the best exercises you can do for glutes. He wrote a long article on it that's still around on T-Nation. I think the reason he doesn't really talk about it that much in his book is that it's so hard to find really heavy kettlebells in most gyms. He advocates using as heavy as you can go and then really working on form. I don't do a lot of bridges but I do a ton of heavy kettlebell swings and they will certainly build your glutes with no pressure on your nerves.

    He recommends around 30% of your body weight for the weight of the KB. This would take tremendous form and, probably for most (if you're like me), working up to that amount. I could probably swing a 100 lb one now with good form but I started out much, much lower than that (around 35 lbs).

    https://bretcontreras.com/kettlebell-swings-go-heavier-for-greater-glute-and-hamstring-activation/

    This was the original article on T-Nation (a great one!).

    https://www.t-nation.com/training/are-heavy-kettlebell-swings-better-than-deadlifts

    Thank you for the great tip and article. Possibly dumb question, but is there anything wrong with substituting a heavy dumbbell for a kettle bell?
  • EmbeeKayEmbeeKay Posts: 231Member Member Posts: 231Member Member
    ....aaaand never mind, I read the article – looks like some of the recommended alternatives to kettle bells at the end of the article might be a good option for me :-)
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