Running offers myriad benefits, including improving cardiovascular health, mood, and overall well-being. However, it can also cause injuries to the joints, including the hips.
Hip pain is common in runners and has a variety of causes. It’s easy for hips to become tight. This can leave them less flexible under pressure, leading to stress and strain. Eventually, this can lead to pain and injury.
Here are seven of the most common causes of hip pain from running, along with treatment and prevention options.
Muscle strain and tendonitis occur when muscles in the hips are overused. You may feel aches, pains, and stiffness in your hips, especially when you run or flex your hip.
Treat muscle strain and tendonitis by icing the affected area several times per day. Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as directed. Serious cases may require physical therapy.
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) affects runners and can be felt along the outside of your hip and knee. Your iliotibial (IT) band is the connective tissue that runs along the outside of your hip to your knee and shinbone. It becomes tight and irritated from overuse and repetitive movements.
Symptoms include pain and tenderness in the knee, thigh, and hip. You may feel or hear a clicking or popping noise when you move.
To treat ITBS, take NSAIDs and ice the affected area a few times per day. Stretches can also improve strength and flexibility in your IT band. Some cases may require corticosteroid injections.
Bursae are fluid-filled sacs that cushion the bones, tendons, and muscles of your hip joint. Frequent repetitive motions, such as running, put pressure on the bursa sacs, causing them to become painful and inflamed. This leads to bursitis, which is characterized by swelling, redness, and irritation.
To treat muscle tendon bursitis, rest from your usual activities until you feel better. Ice the affected area several times per day and take NSAIDs to reduce pain and inflammation. Sometimes corticosteroid injections are used.
See a physical therapist or do some of these hip exercises on your own. Always warm up your body by stretching before you run, and do some type of strength training for your hips.
Seek medical attention if you’re suddenly unable to move your hip, have a fever, or have severe pain. Extreme swelling, redness, and bruising also call for a trip to the doctor.
A hip pointer is a bruise on the hip that occurs from some type of impact, such as falling or being hit or kicked. The affected area may be swollen, bruised, and sore.
If you have a bruised hip, rest until it heals. Try some of these home remedies to reduce bruising. Ice the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes a few times per day.
To reduce swelling and pain, use an elastic bandage as a compress. Along with NSAIDs, corticosteroid injections may be recommended at a later date.
The hip labrum is the cartilage on the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. It cushions and stabilizes your hip, securing the top of your thighbone within your hip socket. Labral tears can occur from repetitive motions, such as running.
If you have a hip labral tear, pain may be accompanied by a clicking, locking, or catching sound or sensation when you move. Mobility when running will be limited, and you may experience stiffness. Symptoms aren’t always clear or easy to diagnose. Sometimes you won’t have any signs.
See your doctor if you suspect you have a hip labral tear. You may be given a physical exam, X-ray, MRI, or anesthesia injection.
Treatment may involve physical therapy, NSAIDs, or corticosteroid injections. If you don’t see improvements with these treatments, arthroscopic surgery may be required.
Breaking your hip is a serious injury that carries the risk of life-threatening complications. Hip fractures often occur when the bone below the femur head breaks. Usually, it’s the result of a sports injury, fall, or car accident.
Hip fractures are more common in older adults. Severe pain and swelling may be accompanied by severe pain with any motion. You may be unable to put weight on the affected leg or move at all.
While some conservative treatments may help to manage symptoms, most of the time surgery is required. Your hip will need to be repaired or replaced. Physical therapy will be necessary to recover after surgery.
Hip osteoarthritis can cause persistent pain in runners. It’s more common in older athletes. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage in the hip joint to break down, split, and become brittle.
Sometimes pieces of cartilage can split and break off inside the hip joint. Loss of cartilage leads to less cushioning of the hip bones. This friction causes pain, irritation, and inflammation.
Preventing and treating osteoarthritis as early as possible is important. An anti-inflammatory diet along with medications may be helpful in relieving pain and promoting flexibility. Some cases may require physical therapy or surgery. Maintaining a healthy weight is important as well.
Most importantly, take a break from running if you’re experiencing hip pain. Once you start to feel better, gradually reintroduce the activity back into your routine to avoid further injury.
Follow a healthy diet to accelerate the healing process. Include foods high in vitamin D and calcium. Examples of these foods include salmon, sardines, and fortified foods, such as cereal or milk.
Once you’re well enough to run again, gradually start up your practice at half of the duration and intensity. Slowly, work your way back up to your previous running routine if it’s appropriate.
Prevention is the best medicine for hip concerns. Pay attention to your pain levels and address them immediately. Always stretch before and after workouts. If necessary, stop to stretch during exercise, or take a break completely.
Invest in quality, well-fitting shoes that are designed to absorb shock. Orthotics inserts can be used to improve function and reduce pain. Work on strengthening and stretching not only your hips, but your glutes, quadriceps, and lower back.
You may wish to invest in a personal trainer to learn proper running form, even if it’s only for a short time. They can teach you proper mechanics and techniques.
Do strengthening and stretching exercises, and always warm up before you run. Restorative or yin yoga can help to stretch and restore the connective tissues in your hips.
Rest is of the utmost importance in your recovery. If you’re experiencing hip pain from running, you probably enjoy an active lifestyle. Sitting on the sidelines may not be ideal, but it’s definitely your best option until you’ve made a full recovery.
If your hip pain persists or is recurring, see a sports medicine or orthopedic doctor. They can give you a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.
Seek medical attention immediately if you have a hip injury that’s accompanied by severe pain, swelling, or signs of infection.