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Running Injury

The 10 Causes of Hip Pain From Running

18 Mins read

Are you tired of that nagging hip pain putting a damper on your running adventures? Well, fret no more because you’ve stumbled upon the perfect article to address your hip-related woes.

Whether you’re currently battling hip discomfort during your runs or experiencing those bothersome post-run aches, we’ve got you covered with some valuable insights and solutions.

Now, let’s be real for a moment. Hip injuries may not be as notorious in the running realm as those pesky knee problems, but that doesn’t mean they should be taken lightly. Trust me when I say that a seemingly innocent twinge in your hip can quickly escalate into a full-blown injury, forcing you to hit the brakes on your beloved running routine.

But fear not! In this comprehensive article, I’m diving deep into the world of hip pain for runners. I’ll explore the primary culprits behind those hip woes, uncovering the conditions that may be causing you grief. From there, I’ll equip you with the knowledge you need to tackle this issue head-on. I’ll delve into effective treatment strategies and arm you with powerful prevention guidelines to keep those hip troubles at bay.

By the time you reach the end of this post, my friend, you’ll not only have a clear understanding of the root causes of hip pain during and after your workouts, but you’ll also be armed with practical steps to take when confronted with that pesky discomfort. Whether it’s adjusting your running form, incorporating specific exercises, or seeking professional guidance, we’ve got the answers you’ve been searching for.

So, let’s dive right in and discover the secrets to conquering hip pain like a true running champion!

10 Causes of Hip Pain From Running

Welcome to the mysterious world of hip pain, dear runner. The hip joint, nestled between the femur and the os coxa, is like the grand ballroom of our bodies—it’s the largest ball-and-socket joint in town!

And boy, does it play a crucial role in our running endeavors. Think power, balance, flexibility, and the glorious momentum that propels us forward. But here’s the twist: the very joint that keeps us in motion can also become a source of pain and frustration for us runners.

Now, brace yourself for a rollercoaster ride, because diagnosing hip pain in the running world is like taming a wild beast. Why, you ask? Well, the hip joint is a complex entity, intertwined with a myriad of muscle groups, making it a breeding ground for various conditions that can send our running ambitions into a tailspin. To make matters more perplexing, some of these conditions share similar symptoms, leaving us scratching our heads in bewilderment.

Imagine this: you’re out on a run, feeling the discomfort gnawing at your hip, and you’re left wondering, “What’s causing this agony? Is it a muscle strain, a tendon issue, or perhaps something deeper within the joint itself?” Ah, the mysteries of the hip!

But fear not, my fellow detective of pain. We’re here to shed light on the most common culprits behind hip pain in runners. Now, keep in mind that hip pain isn’t always a result of our running escapades alone. Lifestyle choices and genetics can also come into play, adding another layer of complexity to the mix.

Hip Pain From Running # 1 – Inflammation of the Bursae

Experiencing pain on the outside of the hip? Then you might have inflammation of the bursae.

Nestled between the greater trochanter (that bony prominence on your femur) and the surrounding muscles and tendons, lies a tiny hero called the bursae. These small sacs of fluid serve as the body’s natural lubricators, creating a gliding surface between your moving tissues—muscles, tendons, and bones. Their mission? To limit friction and keep things running smoothly.

But alas, when you hit the pavement with your running adventures, the trochanteric bursa takes quite the beating. It’s like a warrior on the front lines, facing the impact and repetitive motion of running. And over time, this valiant bursa can become inflamed, leading to the dreaded trochanteric bursitis.

Runners who have fallen victim to this condition often report a dull ache or burning sensation on the outside of their hip during or after a run. Some may even experience a peculiar popping sensation, like a tiny party happening in their hip joint. Ouch!

But running isn’t the only instigator here. Other factors can exacerbate the situation, like direct trauma (oh, those unexpected bumps and falls), pelvis issues, or even prolonged sitting (yes, our sedentary lifestyles strike again!). It’s like adding fuel to the fire of hip discomfort.

The Solution

If you find yourself in the clutches of noninfectious trochanteric bursitis, fear not. Rest, my friend, is your ally. Give your hip some love by reducing your mileage, maybe by around 30 to 50 percent. Say “no thanks” to those hilly routes for a while. And after each run, stretch your IT band and hamstrings to keep everything limber and happy.

But beware, there’s a rare beast called infectious bursitis lurking in the shadows. If you suspect this villain is at play, it’s time to seek medical attention. Antibiotics and, in extreme cases, surgery might be necessary to defeat this foe. Remember, infectious bursitis is as rare as a unicorn, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Now, how long will you be away from the running road, you ask? Ah, that depends on the severity of your symptoms, my resilient runner. If you feel pain when putting pressure on your injured limb, it’s time to consider cross-training. Embrace activities like swimming, aqua jogging, cycling, or hopping on a rowing machine. Keep that cardiovascular fire burning while giving your hip a well-deserved break.

Check the following links for more options:

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Hip Pain From Running # 2 – Muscle Imbalances

Picture this: one side of your body is doing a little happy dance, boasting stronger muscles, while the opposing side sulks in relative weakness. It’s like a battle of epic proportions, where your hip flexors, glutes, and core muscles are caught in the crossfire.

Now, here’s where the plot thickens. These muscle imbalances can throw your hip alignment off balance, leading to a potential recipe for disaster—tears, strains, and the dreaded pain that follows.

The Solution

So, what’s the secret ingredient? A well-rounded strength program that revolves around full-body compound movements. Think pushups, squats, lunges, deadlifts, turkey getups, bridges, and all those glorious exercises that engage multiple muscle groups at once. It’s like conducting a symphony of strength, ensuring that no muscle is left behind.

But wait, there’s more! Single-leg and balance exercises deserve a special mention in the battle against muscular imbalances. Imagine doing pistol squats—a feat that requires strength, balance, and a touch of finesse. These exercises can be your secret weapons in restoring equilibrium to those wayward muscles. Give them a try and feel the power of stability and control coursing through your body.

Of course, it’s always wise to seek guidance from a certified physician or healthcare professional. They hold the keys to unlocking the mystery of your unique conditions. With their expert assessment, they can prescribe a tailored set of exercises and drills that address your specific imbalances, paving the way for a pain-free running journey.

You can also check these stretches for hip pain.

Hip Pain From Running # 3 – Bad Running Form

Running form is akin to a symphony of movement that can either lead you to the land of pain-free bliss or down a treacherous path of joint wear and tear.

Your hips, those magnificent junctions where your body’s power and rhythm converge, are at risk of falling out of alignment. This can occur when your running form takes a wrong turn, sending shockwaves of stress through the delicate joint surfaces. And let me tell you, my friend, that spells trouble—a one-way ticket to Painville.

The Solution

First and foremost, run tall with a slight forward lean. Imagine yourself as a majestic oak tree, reaching towards the sky while subtly leaning forward, as if propelled by a gentle breeze. This posture not only exudes confidence but also helps align your hips and reduce strain on the joint.

Next, let your body flow with ease and relaxation from head to toe. Release the tension that binds you and let your muscles find their natural rhythm. Remember, you’re not auditioning for a statue role; you’re a fluid being in motion.

Now, let’s talk about the core—the mighty pillar of stability. Keep it engaged, my friend, and your back as flat as a tranquil lake. This will provide the foundation for optimal hip alignment and safeguard against the perils of misaligned joints.

Ah, overstriding—the nemesis of proper form. To defeat this villain, work on improving your running cadence and taking shorter, more controlled steps. It’s like dancing to a lively beat, where each step is a graceful movement that keeps your hips in harmony.

Keep your head level, shoulders loose, and arms bent at a gentle 90-degree angle. Picture yourself as a warrior in the midst of battle, with a focused gaze, relaxed shoulders, and arms poised to conquer the road ahead. Let this warrior stance guide your form, and watch as your hips align with precision.

For more on proper running form, check these posts:

Hip Pain From Running # 4 – Stress Fractures

If you feel throbbing or stabbing pain on the inside of your hip (or in the groin area), then you might have a stress fracture.

Now, don’t be fooled, for stress fractures are no ordinary bone breaks. They are the result of relentless, repetitive strain, chipping away at your bone’s resilience like a persistent woodpecker. These fractures can range from a mere crack to a complete break, depending on the severity of the situation.

You see, stress fractures are often associated with the elderly, like seasoned warriors battling the trials of time. But don’t let that fool you, my fellow runner. These pesky fractures can afflict athletes of all ages, especially those brave souls who embark on endurance endeavors and subject their bodies to impactful training.

In the realm of runners, the excessive impact of pounding the pavement, particularly on unyielding surfaces like sidewalks and roads, can lead to trouble. Picture a small crack forming in the femoral neck, that delicate bridge connecting the ball at the top of your femur. It’s as if the very foundation of your hip structure is at risk.

Now, stress fractures don’t announce their arrival with blazing fanfare. Instead, they start as a subtle dull ache, whispering their presence either in front or behind the hip, especially when you’re in the throes of exercise. Ignored, they grow more insistent, their pain steadily intensifying until it becomes a merciless companion, demanding your attention.

The Solution

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it for you. If a stress fracture has set its sights on your hip, continuing to run would be like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire. It will only exacerbate the situation and prolong your road to recovery. So, for now, it’s crucial to bid farewell to your running shoes and embrace a temporary hiatus from the sport you love.

But fear not, for this intermission doesn’t mean you have to surrender to a sedentary existence. While running is off-limits, there are alternatives that can keep your spirit of movement alive. Cross-training, my friend, shall be your saving grace during this period of healing and rejuvenation.

During the six to eight weeks of rest that lie ahead, you can indulge in low-impact cross-training activities that won’t aggravate your injury. Picture yourself pedaling away on a bike, feeling the wind caress your face as you explore new routes. Or perhaps you’ll find solace in the gentle embrace of aqua running, where the buoyancy of water cradles your body and allows you to experience the thrill of cardio without the strain.

But, and this is crucial, before embarking on any cross-training endeavor, consult your trusted physician. Their expertise will guide you towards activities that promote healing and protect you from inadvertently worsening the condition. So, pause for a moment, seek their wisdom, and let their green light illuminate your path forward.

Once you’ve received the blessing of your doctor, it’s time to lace up your running shoes once more, but with caution and a newfound appreciation for your body’s resilience. As you ease back into running, prioritize the protection of your healing hip by opting for softer surfaces. Seek out the forgiving embrace of grassy fields or well-padded tracks, where the impact is gentler on your vulnerable bones.

Here some useful links:

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Hip Pain From Running # 5 – Hip, Thigh or Hamstring Muscle Injury-Tear

Injuries and tears in the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and groin muscles are all too familiar among runners. These conditions can be incredibly frustrating and can significantly impact your running performance. However, understanding the specific muscles involved and the reasons behind these injuries can help you prevent and manage them effectively.

Hip Flexor Strains

Let’s start with hip flexor strains. Picture the front portion of your hip, where a group of muscles called the hip flexors reside. They play a vital role in lifting your thigh upward and facilitating forward motion when you walk or run. Now, imagine feeling pain right at the front of your hip, where your thigh meets your hip near the leg crease. This discomfort could be an indication of a hip flexor strain, which occurs when these muscles are overstretched or torn.

Several studies and research papers have explored the causes and treatment options for hip flexor strains, highlighting the importance of proper warm-up exercises, stretching routines, and gradual increases in training intensity.

Gluteus Medis Muscle Injury

Moving on, let’s talk about the gluteus medius muscle injury. This muscle is one of the three major glute muscles and shares proximity with the hip joint. Consequently, any inflammation or injury to the gluteus medius can have repercussions on the entire hip region, and vice versa. For runners with injured or strained glutes, a tender, aching pain often emerges on the outside of the hip region. Researchers have conducted studies to better understand the mechanisms behind these injuries and have suggested specific strengthening exercises and rehabilitation protocols to aid in recovery.

Hamstring Injury/Tear

Now, let’s delve into hamstring injuries. The hamstrings comprise three distinct muscles running down the back of your thighs. When these muscles are subjected to a significant load while fully or almost fully extended, they can become injured or torn. If you’re experiencing pain and tenderness in the top of the back of your thigh and lower buttocks, it’s likely due to inflammation or injury of the upper part of the hamstrings. Researchers have explored various factors contributing to hamstring injuries, including muscle imbalances, inadequate warm-up, and excessive eccentric loading. They have also recommended specific exercises and techniques to prevent and rehabilitate these injuries.

Quadriceps Tears

Lastly, let’s address quadriceps tears. If you’re feeling pain or tenderness in the front of your thighs, it could be a result of inflammation or injury to the quadriceps muscles. Overworking your quads, especially during downhill running, can lead to strain and overuse injuries. Researchers have examined the risk factors associated with quadriceps tears, emphasizing the importance of balanced training, gradual progression, and adequate recovery. They have also highlighted the role of eccentric strengthening exercises in promoting quadriceps health and preventing injuries.

The Solution

Treating muscle injuries is not complicated.  Mild cases can be treated with the RICE protocol.

As a rule, avoid any activities that put weight on the injured hip for the first few days after onset.

Also, stretch and strengthen your critical running muscles, such as the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves, on a regular basis.

Here are more useful links:

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Hip Pain From Running # 6 – Cartilage Tear

If you’re suffering from intermittent pain in the hip region, accompanied by a clicking or locking sensation, especially following a recent hip fall or twist, then you might blame it on a cartilage tear.

Also known as a labral tear, the condition is a tear of the acetabulum, which is a thick ring of cartilage that cushions the hip joint.

Cartilage tears can be a gradual onset caused by overuse and repetitive strain on the hip.

These tears typically take place where the ball and socket joint insert. Typically, this injury is caused by trauma, as in a sudden fall or twist.

They can also be acute, caused by a traumatic event such as a bad fall, collisions, etc.

Additional resource – How to choose Chiropractor for runners

The Solution

Cartilage tears can be a result of gradual wear and tear, caused by overuse and repetitive strain on the hip. So, if you’ve been pushing your hip a bit too hard, perhaps with excessive running or high-impact activities, it can gradually lead to these pesky tears. Researchers have studied the relationship between overuse and labral tears, shedding light on the importance of proper training techniques, cross-training, and rest days to prevent such injuries.

But hold on, there’s more to the story! These tears often occur right where the ball and socket joint of the hip connect. Picture it like the meeting point of two puzzle pieces. And while overuse can be a common cause, cartilage tears can also be acute, resulting from a sudden and traumatic event, like a bad fall or a collision. It’s like a wrench being thrown into the well-oiled gears of your hip joint.

Several studies and research papers have delved into the causes and mechanisms behind cartilage tears in the hip. They’ve explored the impact of sudden trauma, the role of repetitive motions, and even the potential genetic factors involved. By understanding these insights, healthcare professionals can provide more accurate diagnoses and develop effective treatment plans tailored to each individual.

Here are some useful links:

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Hip Pain From Running # 7 – Iliotibial Band Syndrome

So, you’ve been experiencing some sharp pain on the outside of your knee and/or hip region, huh? Well, don’t worry, because I might just have the answer for you. It’s possible that you’re dealing with a pesky condition called iliotibial band syndrome, or ITBS for short. And if you’re someone who loves hitting the pavement or running on the track all season long, this might hit close to home.

Now, let’s talk about the iliotibial band (IT band for short). Think of it as a tough, resilient tendon that runs down the outside of your thigh, starting from your hip and extending all the way down to your knee. It’s like a tightrope that connects your hip to your shin bone, helping with stability and movement. However, when this band gets inflamed or irritated, it can cause some serious trouble and send sharp pain signals to your knee and hip. Ouch!

But what causes this irritation in the first place? Well, it turns out that tightness in the IT band, along with weak hip and glute muscles, can set the stage for the onset of ITBS.

Research papers and studies have explored the link between these factors and the development of ITBS, highlighting the importance of targeted exercises to strengthen your glutes and hips. By doing so, you’ll be giving your IT band some extra support and reducing the chances of encountering this painful syndrome.

The Solution

let’s dive into the solution! Your first line of defense is to give your running routine a little breather. It’s time to reduce your mileage by about 30 to 50 percent or even take a temporary break if the pain is seriously messing with your stride. Rest and recovery are crucial to allow your body to heal and bounce back stronger.

But wait, there’s more! Strengthening your glutes and hip muscles is a game-changer when it comes to combating ITBS. Researchers have found that correcting muscle imbalances in the area can have a significant impact on preventing and managing this syndrome. So, let’s get those glutes firing and those hips rocking!

In addition to that, there are a few other measures you can take to tackle ITBS head-on. Consider changing up your running routes to mix things up a bit. Avoid roads that have a sideways slope, as they can put extra strain on your IT band. Oh, and don’t forget to switch directions on the track to distribute the load more evenly. It’s like giving your body a fresh and exciting challenge!

Oh, and how about treating yourself to a shiny new pair of running shoes? Sometimes, the right footwear can make all the difference, providing better support and cushioning to alleviate some of that stress on your IT band.

And last but not least, stretching! Give your IT band, hamstrings, and glutes some love. Stretching regularly can help loosen up those tight muscles and improve flexibility. Incorporating a well-rounded stretching routine into your routine is like giving your body a much-needed yoga session.

For the full guide on how to deal with ITBS, check my post here.

Here are more useful links:

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Hip Pain From Running # 9 – Avascular Necrosis

So, let’s dive into a condition that goes by a pretty fancy name: avascular necrosis, also known as osteonecrosis. This condition is all about limited blood supply to the femoral head, which is basically the ball of your hip joint. And when that blood supply gets restricted, it can lead to the unfortunate death of bone tissue. Not a fun situation, right?

Now, let’s explore the causes behind this condition. It’s like a puzzle with multiple pieces coming together. Excessive alcohol intake, high-dose steroid medications, radiotherapy, and even sickle cell diseases can all contribute to the development of avascular necrosis. Studies have delved into these causes, aiming to unravel the intricate connections and help us better understand how to prevent and manage this condition.

But here’s the thing: ignoring avascular necrosis is like playing a dangerous game. When left untreated, it can lead to tiny breaks in the bone, almost like cracks, which can eventually cause the bone to collapse. That’s a situation you definitely want to avoid!

The Solution

So, what’s the solution? Well, if you’ve just been diagnosed by your doctor, it’s crucial that they refer you for an immediate MRI scan. This scan will confirm whether you indeed have avascular necrosis or not. Once you have the results in hand, it’s time to start treatment pronto. Early intervention is key to prevent the condition from getting worse and to thwart the onset of arthritis.

Now, I know you’re probably curious about how to slow down and stop the progression of avascular necrosis. Luckily, there’s an in-depth overview available for you to check out. This resource will provide you with valuable insights, treatment options, and strategies to tackle this condition head-on.

Here are more useful links:

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Hip Pain From Running # 10 – Running on Cambered roads

Picture this: you’re out there hitting the pavement, putting safety first by running against traffic on the road. Sounds responsible, right? Well, here’s the catch. Without even realizing it, you might be running on a sneaky cambered surface. What’s that, you ask? It’s like a subtle incline or tilt on the road.

Now, don’t get me wrong, camber can be useful. It helps with drainage, allowing water to flow off the road, and it even gives those motored vehicles better traction. But here’s the twist: when we as runners tackle those inclined surfaces, it messes with our kinetic chain. You see, one leg ends up reaching down a bit farther than the other, causing misalignments in our body’s movement system.

Think of it as walking on a tightrope where one side is slightly higher than the other. It throws off your balance, making it harder for your muscles and joints to work together harmoniously. This imbalance in the kinetic chain can increase the risk of injury, including hip pain

Now, you might be wondering if there’s any research or studies to back this up. Well, you’re in luck! Researchers have delved into the impact of running on cambered surfaces, highlighting the potential risks and drawing attention to the importance of maintaining balance in our running routines. They’ve explored how running on inclined structures can affect our gait, muscle activation, and overall injury risk.

So, what’s the solution? Well, awareness is key! By understanding the potential impact of running on cambered surfaces, you can take proactive steps to minimize the risks. Consider mixing up your running routes and exploring different terrains. This way, you’re not constantly subjecting your body to those imbalanced surfaces.

And hey, if running on the road is a must for you, try alternating directions. This simple change can help distribute the load more evenly and reduce the strain on one side of your body. It’s like adding a refreshing twist to your running routine!

Additional resource – Aqua jogging for beginners

The Solution

First things first, aim for flat surfaces whenever possible. Picture yourself running right in the middle of the road, feeling like the king or queen of the asphalt kingdom. If that’s not an option, try switching things up by running on the other side of the road. By doing so, you’ll be giving both of your legs a fair chance to work their magic without any sneaky inclines throwing them off balance. And hey, if the sidewalk is there, embrace it! Stick to the good ol’ reliable pavement and let your hips and joints rejoice in its evenness.

Now, here’s where it gets exciting—listening to your body. After conquering those sharply inclined roads, give your body some extra TLC. Pay close attention to how you feel and any signals your body might be sending you. If you notice any discomfort or unusual sensations in your hips or lower back, it’s time to take it easy and allow your body to recover. Remember, your body is your best running partner, and it knows when it’s time to dial it back and give yourself a break.

But we’re not done yet! Let’s talk about incorporating some hip and lower back strengthening and stretching exercises into your cross-training routine. Research papers and studies have shown the benefits of targeted exercises to strengthen these key areas, enhancing stability and preventing injuries.

Think of it as giving your body a superhero training session—building strength, resilience, and flexibility to tackle any challenge that comes your way. So, get creative with your workouts and explore exercises like squats, lunges, bridges, and various stretches that target those hips and lower back. Your body will thank you!

Serious Cases of Hip Pain

If you’ve been dealing with persistent hip pain and those moments of rest and gentle stretching just haven’t done the trick, it’s time to take the next step. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back (or rather, your hip) covered! It’s time to see a doctor for a thorough assessment and get to the bottom of this stubborn pain.

You see, when it comes to your precious hips, it’s always a good idea to seek professional guidance. That means paying a visit to a knowledgeable doctor or a sports medicine specialist who can dig deep and unravel the mysteries behind your discomfort. They’ll conduct a comprehensive assessment, considering all the possible factors that might be causing your hip pain.

Now, let’s talk about some of the potential culprits that can bring on the hip pain party. Brace yourself, because we’re diving into a list of conditions that can wreak havoc on your hip joint and the surrounding tissues.

It’s like navigating through a complex maze of possibilities. We’ve got femoral acetabular impingement, sciatica, piriformis syndrome, groin pulls or tears, snapping hip syndrome, hip tendonitis, septic arthritis, hernias, osteoarthritis, slipped capital femoral epiphysis, and even meralgia parasthetica. Whew! That’s quite a lineup!

Research papers and studies have explored these conditions, shedding light on their unique characteristics, causes, and treatment approaches. They serve as valuable resources, helping healthcare professionals stay up to date with the latest advancements and ensuring that you receive the best possible care for your hip pain.

Here are more resources to check out:

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Hip Pain From Running Infographic



Here you have it!

I hope the above advice will prove useful in helping you deal with and prevent hip pain when running.

In the meantime, thank you for reading my post.

Please stay safe, and run strong.

David D.

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