Rudder Pedal issues and groin/hip

Hello, I am new to flying. I have already done about 3 flights and have about 2 hours in the air with some ground training. I have flown a Cessna 172 mostly. My issue is the rudder pedals. Before I flew planes I had this imagination that the rudder pedals felt as light as gas pedals on a car. I had a rude awakening and found out thats not the case. Is it just me or does the rudder pedals always feel this stiff. For example today I spent about an hour doing ground taxi work with the rudder pedals and I feel like I have a sore hip/groin. A good analogy is that sometimes I feel like I’m “leg pressing the pedals” . Its not extremely stiff, but if you get a habit of pressing these things alot , it has a tole on your body I imagine. For example, I used to do rideshare driving, and the simple act of pressing a light gas pedals and breaks on a car, can wear your hips out if done for so many hours a day. I did have that happen to me and my doc informed me that I overused my hip from driving too much on the job like 70 hours a week of driving.

My question to you all is,

  1. are all planes rudder pedals this stiff?

  2. is this something your legs just get used to? I don’t wanna get worn out hips/groin from this career.

I really need to consider weather this is the career for me, because its not gonna be fun having sore groin and hip issues every single time I go fly. But I also don’t wanna skip on a good career if this is a small issue I am concerned about. I’m curious if different small planes have different stiffness levels on rudder pedals or vice versa. I’m also curious if the jet planes have this same level of stiffness.


Welcome to the forum.

The rudder pedal forces in a small airplane are relatively light compared to what you can encounter in a jet. While we really do not use the rudder much in everyday flying, we do use it a lot in taxiing and the forces needed to brake the airplane can be a lot. The real issue will be practicing engine failures, which you will be doing from now until the end of your pilot career. When one engine fails, it can take up to 125 lbs of force on the opposing rudder pedal to keep the airplane going straight and this force can often need to be held for several minutes.

I have never heard anybody complain about this hurting their hips before, but it sounds like you already have hip issues. Flying involves a lot of sitting and a fair amount of rudder and brake work with your feet. I would really be cautious before proceeding if I were you.


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I have to say I’m with Chris on this one. Things will get much harder as your planes get bigger. I currently fly a B717 and every flight we have to do a rudder check which involves pushing the rudders through their full range of motion. While I’ve never experienced any pain it is a pretty good leg workout. Thinking after a night of practicing V1 cuts you’ll me pretty shot.

Your call.


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Hi Tom,

You might want to look into exercise to strengthen your legs and hips. Squats and lunges a few times a week might make the difference for you. Frequent walking would probably help as well. I did a training flight on a broken knee a few years ago, so I know that it can hurt to operate the rudder when your body is unprepared.


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I actually already do a lot of weight training . The problem with me is that I’m very small and skinny , like I’m only 5 foot 9 , 130 lbs. for example I’m strong enough to squat my own body weight however squatting your own body weight is not much compared to another guy who is bigger than me. I imagine a guy who is bigger than me , the pedals are easier. Thanks for the advice everyone.


I can’t say I’ve ever experienced this issue before. Long days in the cockpit are tough on everyone’s body though. I do my best to walk a lot on the sits between flights and staying active on layovers and days off.

Have you tried physical therapy?


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I think the best advice I could give from a previous collegiate athlete standpoint is: Do you exercise daily? A lot of mornings before I would attend class or sit a long period of time, a good stretch can really make the difference. Everyone’s body is different, I like to go on walks and do simple workouts in the gym daily, it not only gets me away from the everyday life of a pilot to refresh my mind and bring myself back to relax.

As Hannah mentioned, have you considered physical therapy or discussing this with a family doctor?


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Does anyone happen to know if the fighter jets have the same rudder pedal stiffness?

I thought I heard from a flight instructor that the bigger jet planes have run on hydraulic pedals as apposed to the cable ones used on the small Cessna planes. They were implying that the big jet planes have a lighter feel to them or something I heard, I am not sure if it was accurate or not.

I’m also curious if its the same with fighter jets, for example F-18 or F-16 fighters. I once thought of going the fighter pilot route via military too , but again I wouldn’t be excited on pursuing that career if it had the same issues.

I have a physical therapist that treated my old condition, and it did get better and I also got an FAA medical and I’m cleared to fly. However, I think my hip condition might be very vulnerable to being flared up. Just from doing nothing but ground taxi drills for about an hour yesterday, my groin/hip is sore on both sides.


Large commercial jets also have hydraulic brakes. Thing is an F16 weighs about 20,000lbs while an A330 weighs 400,000lbs. That’s a whole lot more weight on that nosewheel. Further pretty much all fighters have “centerline thrust”. This means the engines are so close if you lose one it has little effect on directional control vs an Airbus or Boeing that has quite a bit of distance between the engines thus requiring considerable rudder pressure to maintain control if one becomes inop.

While I’m not 100% sure about the fighters, I’m thinking that might be a better route for you.


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I am no expert of military flight medicals, but their standards are much higher than civilian ones, you might find that with your past hip issues you could have a difficult time obtaining a flight medical. It is best to speak with an officer recruiter on this one.

Bigger jets definitely require more rudder pressure, even with the hydraulics. Most CFIs have not flown a large jet.


Hi guys,
I read some very interesting and incisive recommendations from the mentors.
Well done.
Before the young man gets discouraged, may I add my two cents worth.
Sometimes we need to teach and then check, wether the student understands the use of the feet, during rudder use and brake use.
On the ground (for taxiing), it is heels for rudder and the balls of the feet for the brakes. In the air, as brakes are not used, it is the balls of the feet for the rudders.
Maybe if someone could try this and see how it works out.
Best of luck to the young man.

thank you, to be honest I have been discouraged and am leaning not towards pursuing this career anymore only because my right hip is not perfect. All though my doctors have cleared me to fly and my hip is not that bad, it would be alot of headache having to deal with sore hips after every flight day during the academy. will my body adapt to it? maybe its possible i don’t know, or maybe it might contribute to over use syndrome.

Based on reading everyone’s comments, I kind of get the idea and understand that if there is brake failure, you need to be prepared, and I am sure I can do what is necessary to prepare my body for that, and that I do go to the gym alot and strengthen my legs every week with excercises such as deadlifts squats and lunges. I think I do have pretty strong legs for my size. So i am not to worried about a situation where break failure happens and I am unable to do utilize strength. I know my body is capable of putting out strength.

My only concern is that i am only about 5 foot 9 inches and 130 lbs, Ive always been a small skinny guy by most human standards. What is easier for others in small tasks is alot harder for me. What I worry about is that going to flight training everyday, im gonna have sore hips after every flight every day. After my first 3 discovery flights, I did have sore hips just after the flight from using the rudder. I did the On the ground (for taxiing), it is heels for rudder and the balls of the feet for the brakes technique. The day i was most sore was the 3rd discovery flight with an hour of just taxiing training. I came home and both my hips were sore, but my right was most sore, actually took a few days to feel better. Even though i might be capable, the daily grind of feeling like my hips are getting butchered from this job might be too much, it will just add up over time I imagine. My hips already got butchered from doing rideshare driving for 3 years straight, im not sure how much more it can take even though im still “technically” cleared to fly. even if your capable you have to guage weather your body can take the wear and tear over time, Because this is a long career process goal.

I don’t know either if i am over concerned about something that is not that big a deal either or maybe its just a technique issue, I don’t know.

Another thing to note is that, my hip pain was less driving regular sedan cars, i was told in SUV cars where your sitting up high, your hip is not in an optimal position, and your putting more strain on it, most airplanes have similar seat like SUV’s where you sit upright. A lean back seat tends to put less stress on your hips i have learned. I think fighter pilots might have seats that are more reclined.

I do wish the rudder pedals were more light like car pedals, but there not. I flew a Cessna 172 .

If you are passionate, you will do whatever it takes.
Upright, reclined, lying down or even standing up.
Giving up should not be an option.


I’m also a small skinny dude, and a current student. I don’t have hip problems, but I can say that for the first few weeks of my training (before I got used to how controlling an airplane feels), I was sore after every flight from clenching too hard. My hands cramped, my knees cramped from making too many tiny rudder corrections and my arms hurt from gripping the yoke when I didn’t need to. I had poor posture, and I didn’t know the best seat position yet until I had a few weeks of trial and error to find the right notch on the adjustment.

What I’m trying to say is that a few flights won’t necessarily represent how your body will react once you’re confident and experienced in flying. I can’t promise the hips won’t be a problem, but from my experience, my body definitely adapted, and now no more cramps!



A break failure would really not involve the hips as there would be nothing for you to push against with your feet. The concern is the forces needed with everyday flying to apply pressure to the rudder, to steer on the ground, to brake on the ground and to control the airplane in an emergency. I do not mean to discourage you, but if driving a car bothers you, I can assure you that this is more of the same.


Driving generally does not bother me. "driving over 70 hours a week, yes that could aggravate things. The way I dealt with that, was using “cruise control” to reduce overwork load of constant breaking. When I drove for over 70 hours a week for 3 plus years, your hip adductor gets a toll from constant breaking with the leg. So even though its annoying, with car driving, there are tricks here and there to reduce the overload. The body part I am more referring to is the hip aductors/groin area.

When I first got into flying, I had this imagination that the rudder pedals were essentially like a car break or gas pedal, I even imagined it was light to the touch like one. From my experience so far after doing 3 flights, the rudder pedals are no where near as light as a car pedal, you have to press it harder than a car.

I guess a good question to ask too is even thought the rudder pedals are harder than car pedals how often in a flight day are you pushing on those rudder pedals. For example, 8 hours in a day of constant braking with a light car pedal vs unknown amount of time in plane pressing on “harder rudder pedal”. Ive heard some people say that its only on taxiing that you use the rudders, and not so much in the air, not sure if thats true or not.


Forget taxiing and forget using the rudder during normal flight. The fact is 99.99% of the time I believe you’ll be fine. There’s one issue as I see it.

Please allow me to share some aviation knowledge. FunFact: more people die in twin engine airplanes that lose an engine but still have one perfectly operating engine, than do in single engine planes that lose their only engine. Know why? Torque and drag. When you lose an engine in flight 2 things happen very quickly. The dead engine becomes a HUGE paperweight creating a ton of drag on its wing and disturbs the airflow over that wing. Meanwhile the operating engine is still creating thrust and lift. Wanna guess what the first thing you need to do when that happens is? You need to push the rudder on the good side to the floor and hold it there until you get things stabilized. This action not only requires quick action, it requires significant force to counter all the torque and lift that engine is producing. Don’t and you become a spinning lawn dart and will most likely become a statistic. This is true in large commercial jets as well except you’ll take a few hundred people with you.

That sir is the issue and why you need to give this some serious thought.


I’d rather focus on the 99.9% of the time, just basic everyday going to work type of thing. Weather the rudder pedals will be wear and tear on my hip adductors just from the daily grind of going to work.

I’m not worried about the engine failure thing, because that is not often, and even if it happened, I know I would be fine, because I feel my legs are strong when they need to be, I go to the gym alot.

my only concern is the daily wear and tear from just everyday going to work. for example, If a baseball pitcher pitches his all career, his shoulder will get wear and tear from throwing so much eventually, thats why some baseball pictures avoid overhead press work to minimize the already taxing overhead work they are doing to their shoulders.

So when it comes to flying and using rudder pedals every single day in the academy, the wear and tear of that, everysingle day you gotta get in that plane and push those rudder pedals and taxii the plane and then land it and , its everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, all that rudder foot pushing, does that wear down on the hip adductors. Becaucse when I did rudder practice the other day for about an hour I had a hell of a sore hip adductors/groin for 2-3 days. Imagine, if that were every single day, im wondering.