Arthritis, Hip Pain, and Success With Running
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Arthritis, Hip Pain, and Success With Running

Ted loves to run. We previously fixed his back pain from running. We kept in touch about all his successes with pain free running. A few years later he wrote, worried that his hip x-rays showed severe hip arthritis and an old hip injury hurt. We again got him back to pain free running. That is what we do at Fitness Fixer. In the New York Times, an article quoted a physician who always had pain after running and said he "had no idea why." More about that follows with what Ted and I did to fix his hip pain from running.

Four years ago, Ted came to me with back pain from running. He had been running with too much inward curve in the lower back, which is a common cause of lower back pain while standing, walking, and running. We stopped his back pain from running by teaching him to reduce the too-large inward curve to neutral spine during running and daily life - Back Pain From Running.

A year later, he wrote back saying that since his back pain was completely gone (plus a few other things we fixed in the interim), he noticed some hip pain. He had been running with the foot turned out (duck-foot) and wrote, "A straight push off after the foot-strike made the pain go away - Runner Fixes More Pain With Straighter Push-Off.

Earlier this year Ted wrote that his doctor said his x-rays showed arthritis in both hips. I told Ted not to let doctors scare him into anything rash (surgery, giving up running, taking medicines that cause other problems, and so on). Often the arthritis or other abnormality that shows up on an x-ray is not the cause, or only cause, of pain.

The New York Times recently ran an article quoting the President of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as saying he (the president) "Has no idea why his knees are sore after each time he runs." The article also quoted several prominent physicians saying, "Most folks should not go (to doctors), because most general doctors don’t know a lot about running injuries. Most docs, often even the good sports docs, will just tell you to stop running anyway, so the first thing is to stop running yourself. In fact, because you probably will have to make a co-payment if you see a doctor, you will be adding insult -the fee - to your injury."

In a study reported at a recent meeting of the American Orthopedic Society, Dr. Matthew Silvis did MRI scans of the hips of 21 professional hockey players and 21 college players. Results showed 70 percent of the athletes had abnormalities, More than half had labral tears, which are scary looking rips in the cartilage that holds the leg in place in the hip bone. None had pain, or only minimal discomfort that did not affect their playing. The same is true for rotator-cuff tears. Studies have demonstrated that about half of all middle-age people with no shoulder pain have these rotator-cuff tears that show on scans but they have no pain or symptoms.

I wrote to Ted with several things for him to check and fix about his body mechanics. He replied:

"I used your ''Better Exercise on Stairs'' article to go Pain Free up stairs (which I had not been able to do for 8-months)

"Thus Encouraged, I ''flattened'' it out, and used the Same Mechanics to do AN EXTREMELY Slow Jog on my 20-min Sunday Walk/Jogs. which have been PAIN FREE.

"The doc looked at my x-rays, told me he had NO idea how I could run on my arthritic hips, had me demonstrate the Flattened Better Exercise on Stairs Method, I explained my 41 year Love of Running....and he said ''You've already figured it out, keep doing what works and YOU call ME if you need to come back.''"

Ted didn't need to go back to the Doc, but he did write to me:

"Sorry to bother you Dr. Bookspan,
"In my running you helped me with my back, then you helped me with my knee, (and shoulder).

"I may be pushing my luck here, But NOW my hip flexor (psoas) is inflamed and essentially my thigh is swollen. By paying attention, I found the pain in the hip is in front, about where a tendon would attach to the hip (not the ball joint as I had feared).

"QUESTION--is there an isolation exercise for this tendon??? assuming there is one (I didn't pay much attention to Anatomy in Pharmacy School). What would be some good re-hab exercise/stretches?? This is an old injury from catching my foot on the upswing while running across a tarp spread over the track."

I gave him a nice stretch for the front of the hip where the leg meets the body (anterior hip).

Ted wrote:
"Thanks for the quick response

"I went out this morning and did 40-minutes (ohboyohboy) PainFree

"I'm game for any other techniques (and am reading all your web site info…)

"This has added literally YEARS to my running starting 4 years ago when you helped me fix my Back Pain."

Then Ted went walking around downtown on concrete surfaces. He wrote that he was in pain again. I sent him to all the anterior stretches in my book Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier. Ted replied:

"Dr Bookspan,


".....I just got the book last night,
"was hurting from a lousy 20-min run,
"looked up ''quad'' and ''hip flexor'' stretches and was Pain Free this morning.

"Like I told my running buddy this is like a CookBook for Pain Relief,,,,,,,

"I cannot wait to go out and hurt something else."


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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.