Pain or stiffness in the hips is common. Sports injuries, pregnancy, and aging can all put a strain on your hip joints, making it more difficult for the joint to glide in and out in a full range of motion.

In some cases, this results in a feeling that your hips are misaligned and need to be cracked or “popped” into place.

Sometimes your hip will even make a cracking sound on its own. Although this could indicate a serious joint problem, it’s often just the tendons gliding across the joint. Many people experience this “cracking” without any other symptoms.

While recurring hip pain should always be addressed and diagnosed by a doctor, there are some instances when it’s safe to try to pop your hips back into proper alignment. Keep reading to find out if, and how, you might try to do this.

The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint that connects your pelvis to the top of your thigh bone.

A thick cushion of cartilage between the bones enables your bones to glide against each other without causing you pain.

Tendons connect the muscles and bones in your hips, binding them together but leaving room for them to stretch apart when needed.

If the tendons become inflamed, if the cartilage starts to break down, or if your muscles or bones become injured, your hip mobility becomes limited. Only try these exercises if your hip feels “off” but isn’t causing you pain.

Butterfly stretches

  1. Sit up straight with your buttocks firmly touching the floor.
  2. Bend your knees and place the bottoms of your feet together so that your heels touch.
  3. Take a deep breath in to center your stretch.
  4. Gently press your knees down on both sides toward the floor and breathe out. You may hear your hip pop.

Side lunge

  1. Stand up straight and move your feet into a wide stance.
  2. Lean to the right as far as you can, bending the right knee while keeping your left leg straight. You should feel a stretch in your left groin, and you may hear a pop.

Pigeon pose

  1. Start on your belly, facing the floor.
  2. Raise up on your forearms and bring your legs straight up behind you. Create an inverted V-shape with your body, making your arms straight and shoulder width apart and your feet flat on the floor.
  3. Flex your right foot. Raise your right leg up off the floor and bring it forward toward your hands. Rest your right ankle against your left wrist and lower yourself to the floor. Your thigh should be flat against the mat or the ground.
  4. Slide your left leg straight back. Your left thigh should be rotating inward toward the rest of your body. Put your hands at your sides with your fingers touching the floor, behind your right foot.
  5. Move your body forward over your right leg, getting as close to the floor as you can. You may hear a pop or crack. If you feel any pain, stop right away.
  6. Slowly rise from the Pigeon pose after 30 seconds, and repeat it on the other side.

If you have any suspicion that you’ve been injured, don’t attempt to crack your hip. Repeatedly cracking your hip can worsen or cause injury over time.

While a hip that feels “out of place” can be irritating, don’t swing your hips around or move erratically to try to get it to “pop.” Any attempt to crack your hip should be done slowly, safely, with mindfulness and careful movements.

If you feel your hip going out of place several times a week, or if any pain accompanies the popping noise when you crack your hip, you need to see your doctor. Anti-inflammation medication, physical therapy, or chiropractic care may be necessary to treat your hip discomfort.

Crepitus is the medical term for joints that crack and pop. Crepitus can be caused by gases trapped between joints. It can also be caused by tendon tears, bones that break and don’t heal correctly, and inflammation surrounding your joint.

Other common causes of hip discomfort:

If cracking your hip causes you any pain at all, you should see your doctor.

If you have an inflammatory condition, corticosteroid injections may be able to reduce your pain and inflammation. Your hip pain could be an early sign of arthritis or indicate that you’re having issues with your lower back.

Ignoring your hip pain could prolong pain or injury. But hip injuries and health conditions that are treated promptly and correctly have a good prognosis.

Cracking your hip occasionally to release tension isn’t a health risk. Likewise, a hip that cracks by itself during a workout or when you’re getting out of bed isn’t unusual.

When you feel like your hip joint is “off” or out of place, there are safe ways to get it to crack. But repeatedly cracking or popping your hip to treat a dislocated or injured joint isn’t effective. Speak to your doctor about any pain or concerns you have about cracking joints.