Hip Pain From Running: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Effective Ways to Ease Hip Pain From Running: Relief Guide

Introduction

Running is a popular form of exercise known for its numerous health benefits. Still, it can also lead to injuries for runners, particularly in the hip area. Many runners experience hip pain at some point in their journey. Understanding the underlying causes, recognizing the symptoms, and knowing how to get rid of hip pain from running effectively can help runners maintain their health and enjoy their sport. 

This blog will explore the common causes of hip pain from running, describe its symptoms, and provide actionable advice for treatment and prevention. By addressing hip pain early and applying the right strategies, runners can avoid long-term injuries and continue their passion for running without discomfort.

Common Causes of Hip Pain

Muscle Strains

Muscle strains near the hip flexor occur when muscle fibers are overstretched or torn. Runners may experience this due to sudden movements, overuse, or running without a proper warm-up. This can result in sharp pain in runners, making it difficult to move or lift the leg.

Tendinitis

Tendinitis is the inflammation of tendons, which are the bands connecting muscles to bones. In runners, it often affects the hip due to repetitive strain and overuse, leading to pain and tenderness in the area, especially when moving the affected limb.

Bursitis

Bursitis involves inflammation of the bursa sac, small fluid-filled sacs that reduce friction between bones and connective tissues. Hip bursitis can cause significant pain in the outer thigh. It is common among runners who frequently increase their mileage or intensity without adequate conditioning.

Labral Tears

The labrum is a ring of cartilage surrounding the hip joint, providing stability and cushioning. Labral tears, often caused by repetitive motion or structural abnormalities, can lead to hip pain and stiffness, significantly affecting a runner’s performance and comfort.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can affect the hip, leading to pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion. Runners with a history of hip injuries or those who are older may be more susceptible to developing osteoarthritis.

Stress Fracture

Stress fractures in the hip are tiny cracks in the bone that result from repetitive movements, often from running long distances. They cause severe pain and require significant rest and recovery time, making them a critical concern for runners.

Symptoms of Hip Pain After Running

Detailed Description of Symptoms

Runners with hip pain may experience various symptoms depending on the underlying cause. Recognizing these symptoms early can help achieve an accurate diagnosis and treat the condition effectively before it worsens.

Pain Location

The location of hip pain can vary; it might be felt on the inside or outside of the hip, the groin area, or the buttocks. Pinpointing the exact location can help identify the underlying issue: muscle strain, bursitis, or a labral tear.

Nature of Pain

The nature of hip pain can range from a sharp, stabbing sensation to a dull, constant ache. Acute injuries typically cause sharp pain, while chronic conditions like osteoarthritis result in a persistent dull ache.

Stiffness and Limited Range of Motion

Stiffness and a reduced range of motion in the hip joint are common symptoms of hip pain. This can make daily activities such as walking, climbing stairs, and even sitting for long periods challenging.

Swelling or Tenderness

Swelling or tenderness around the hip area can indicate inflammation or injury. This symptom is often associated with conditions like bursitis or tendinitis and can be accompanied by warmth or redness.

Audible Clicking or Popping Sensation

A clicking or popping sensation in the hip, especially when moving, can indicate a labral tear or other structural issues within the hip joint. This symptom should not be ignored as it can lead to further damage if left untreated.

Radiating Pain

Radiating pain from the hip down to the thigh or knee can signal nerve compression or irritation. This type of pain is often sharp and may worsen with activities such as running or climbing stairs.

When to Seek Professional Help

When to Seek Professional Help

Severe Pain

If you experience severe hip pain that limits your ability to move or bear weight, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately. Severe pain can indicate a serious injury that requires professional treatment.

Inability to Bear Weight

If the pain in your hip makes it impossible to stand or walk, even for short periods, this is a sign that you may have a significant injury, such as a stress fracture or severe muscle strain. Prompt medical evaluation is necessary to prevent further damage.

Swelling or Redness

Swelling, redness, or warmth around the hip can signify an infection or inflammation. If these symptoms are present, especially if they’re accompanied by fever, seek medical help as soon as possible to rule out infections or more severe conditions.

Persistent Symptoms

If you have persistent pain in the hip for more than a few weeks despite rest and home treatment, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional. Ongoing pain may indicate a chronic condition that requires a specialized treatment plan.

History of Trauma

If you have a history of hip trauma or common injury and experience renewed or worsening pain, it’s essential to see a doctor. Previous injuries can lead to complications like hip osteoarthritis or increase the risk of further damage.

Loss of Range of Motion

A noticeable decrease in your ability to move your hip or leg, especially if it’s gradual and worsening, indicates the need for a professional assessment. Limited mobility can significantly impact your quality of life and may signify a serious underlying condition.

Numbness or Tingling

Numbness, tingling, or a sensation of ‘pins and needles’ in the hip, thigh, or groin area can be signs of a nerve issue. It’s important to address these symptoms quickly to avoid long-term nerve damage.

Previous Hip Issues

If you’ve had hip problems in the past, such as surgeries, fractures, or chronic conditions, and notice changes in symptoms or new pain, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider. Previous issues can leave the hip more susceptible to injury or degeneration.

Preventing Hip Pain Before It Starts

Importance of Maintaining Weight

Excess body weight puts additional stress on the hip joints during running, increasing the risk of injury and pain. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can significantly reduce the strain on your hips and prevent pain.

Benefits of Regular Body Movement

Engaging in regular, light, low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, or walking can strengthen the muscles around the hips, improving stability and reducing the risk of injury. Stretching before and after running helps maintain flexibility and prevent muscle strains. Incorporating cross-training activities into your routine can also relieve the repetitive stress placed on the hips by running, helping prevent overuse injuries.

Role of Diet and Nutrition in Preventing Hip Pain

A healthy diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, and anti-inflammatory foods can support bone health and reduce inflammation, lowering the risk of hip pain. Hydration is also crucial for joint health. Ensure you’re drinking enough water before, during, and after running to keep your joints well-lubricated and functioning properly.

How to Treat Hip Pain Without Medication

Explanation of the RICE Method

The RICE method is widely recommended and is a common treatment for the immediate aftermath of an injury, as it helps reduce inflammation, ease pain, and speed up the recovery process. 

Here’s a detailed explanation of each component:

  • Rest: The first step involves resting the injured area to prevent further damage and allow the healing process to begin. For runners experiencing hip pain, this means taking a break from running and any other activities that might aggravate the injury. It’s important to listen to your body and not rush back into activity too soon, as this can lead to a longer recovery period or even more severe injury.
  • Ice: Applying ice pack to the affected area can significantly reduce pain and swelling. It’s recommended to ice the hip for 20-30 minutes every three to four hours for the first 48-72 hours following the injury. Be sure to wrap the ice in a cloth or use a cold pack to protect the skin from frostbite. The cold temperature helps to constrict blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the injured area, which in turn decreases inflammation and numbs the surrounding area, providing temporary pain relief.
  • Compression: Compression involves wrapping the injured area with a bandage or support to minimize swelling and provide support. Hip injuries might involve using an elastic medical bandage around the pelvic area or wearing compression shorts. The compression should be snug but not too tight as to cut off circulation.
  • Elevation: Elevating the injured area above the level of the heart helps to reduce swelling by encouraging excess fluid to drain away from the injury. While elevating the hip can be challenging compared to other body parts, lying down with the hip propped up on pillows can be effective, especially when combined with the other elements of the RICE method.

Following the RICE method can be an effective way to relieve hip pain from running and other running-related injuries, especially in the critical first days following the injury. However, it’s essential to remember that while the RICE method can help relieve symptoms and reduce inflammation, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If pain and symptoms persist or if you are unsure about the severity of your injury, seeking the guidance of a healthcare professional is crucial.

Your Place Physical Therapy’s Sports Physical Therapy

Your Place Physical Therapy's Sports Physical Therapy

Assessment and Diagnosis

At Your Place Physical Therapy, a thorough assessment and diagnosis are the first steps in treating hip pain. Our skilled physical therapists evaluate your running form, hip movement, and overall physical condition to identify the root cause of your pain.

Personalized Treatment Plans

Based on the diagnosis, we develop personalized treatment plans tailored to each runner’s specific needs. These plans may include targeted therapeutic exercises, manual therapy, and advice on running techniques to address the underlying issues causing hip pain.

Rehabilitation Exercises

We provide rehabilitation exercises designed to strengthen the hip, improve flexibility, and restore range of motion. These exercises are crucial for recovery and can help prevent future injuries by ensuring the hip remains strong and functional.

Pain Management Technique

Our physical therapists use various pain management techniques, including ice therapy, heat treatment, and soft tissue massage. These methods can help relieve pain and inflammation, allowing for a more comfortable and quicker recovery.

Education and Prevention

Education is a key component of our treatment approach. We offer advice on proper running techniques, shoe selection, and how to incorporate rest and cross-training into your routine to prevent future and chronic hip pain and ensure a safe return to running.

Conclusion

Hip pain after running can be frustrating, but understanding its causes, symptoms, and how to treat hip pain from running can help you manage and prevent it effectively. Remember, addressing hip pain early and adopting preventive measures can make a significant difference in your running experience and overall health. If you’re dealing with persistent hip pain, don’t hesitate to seek medical professional help to get back on track safely. Stay informed, stay healthy, and keep enjoying your run!

FAQs

How long does it take for a runner’s hip to heal?

The healing time for a runner’s hip varies depending on the injury’s severity and the treatment method. Minor injuries may heal within a few weeks, while more severe conditions like hip fractures or labral tears may require months. Following a tailored treatment plan is crucial for effective recovery.

What does runners hip feel like?

Runners’ hip often manifests as a dull ache or sharp pain in the hip area, which may worsen during or after running. The pain can also radiate to the thigh, groin, or buttocks. Stiffness and reduced mobility in the hip joint are common accompanying symptoms.

Do runners have weak hips?

Not all runners have weak hips, but repetitive motion and inadequate cross-training can lead to muscle imbalances and weakness around the hip area. Strengthening and conditioning exercises targeting the hips, glutes, and core can help prevent weakness and reduce the risk of running injury.