Common hip pain among runners

Running is a wonderful form of exercise, but can lead to injury if you do not take care of your body. Except minor pain after running a marathon, I have been able to avoid injury while running.  In order to avoid injury it is important to strength train! For more about the importance of strength training, read THIS!

Hip pain is very common for people who are trying to incorporate more distance into their weekly mileage.  Fortunately, hip pain is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix.

Hip bursitis is the most common type of hip pain.  Hip bursitis is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs that lubricate your joints, and is mostly caused by tight hamstrings, over-use, adding too much milage too soon, weak muscles, or iliotibial band problems.  You may feel a dull ache, burning, rubbing, or popping sensation on the outside of your hip.

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  • Thoroughly stretching after a run will significantly help relax your tight hamstrings. Read THIS! for tips on how to properly warm up and stretch.
  • Incorporating strength training into your exercise routine will help to alleviate hip pain by strengthening your hamstrings, quadriceps, and iliotibial band.  
  • Slowly increasing mileage is also important.  You do not want to “shock” your body too much. Yes, it is good to change things up, but you need to add milage slowly.  If you are running 20 miles per week, try adding 3-5 miles the next week by adding 0.5-1 miles onto different runs throughout the week.  
  • It would also be a great idea to R.I.C.E. your hip (or sore area) following each run.  Hopefully within 1-2 weeks of incorporating more stretching, strength training and adding R.I.C.E. after your runs, your hip pain will subside.  

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Here is a helpful diagram that may help to pinpoint if you are suffering from hip bursitis.

hip-bursitis

If this type of pain is not what you are experiencing, you may be suffering from a stress fracture. A sports physician will be able to diagnose a stress fracture and prescribe forms of treatment (usually 6-8 weeks).

 

25 thoughts on “Common hip pain among runners

  1. I love reading your blog and especially loved this post! I have been complaining of a pain I just couldn’t quite explain, but this explains it perfectly! I can’t wait to try out the methods you’ve mentioned for helping stop and prevent the pain!

  2. Hey! I’ve been having A LOT of pain in my right hip. Got an x-ray from a chiropracter and it showed that my hip joint is very rough and not a smooth ball as it should be. He prescribed ice and chiropractic care. I’ve slowly started building my core and speed walking. Today I did an ab workout and slow jogged for 1 1/2 miles. After I fnished my hip was extremely stiff and painful. I’ve noticed after a run, it tightens up and is SO PAINFUL, then I rest for about a week and the symptoms disappear. Does this sound like hip bursitis? I’ve rested it for 3 weeks and barely worked out today and it’s killing me. Any ideas would be sooooo appreciated! -Carissa

    • That sounds awful! Prior to running do you do any type of warm up? You may want to do front and side leg swings 10 times for each leg; it will help to warm up and lubricate your hip joints. Do this after you run as well. Your rough hip socket may be causing extra stress on your hip bursa (the fluid filled sack that helps to lubricate the joint), which is a contributing factor to hip bursitis. However, I am not sure how to help fix the rough socket. You also need to work on strengthening your iliotibial band, as that can also play a factor in hip bursitis. I will work on a post later this week about strenghthing your iliotibial band. Icing sounds like a quick relief, but effective. I would also recommend to take an anti-inflammatory prior to your run.

      I’ll work on that post and hopefully have it up by the end of the week 🙂

      • Yes, I normally do some slow jogging or dynamic stretches before running. I will definetly try the leg swings! Oh okay…never heard of strenghtening my ilibital band. Looking forawrd to your next post! Thanks again!

  3. Courtney, thank you so much for all the hard work you put into educating others based on your own highly experienced running. I am truely enjoying your posts, even though I have only recently been introduced to your blog. I am passionate about educating others on hip pain as I am still recovering from a surgery in this area. It is a new discovery within the medical field and a lot of doctors don’t even know about it, although it is becoming more and more common within the athletic population. I too had similar, yet different symptoms from what you mentioned above; however, mine was a tear in the hip joint. Many runners and athletes have joints that are not “properly” made, meaning they rub the hip joint cartilage which causes a tear (hip labral tear). I had to have surgery to repair this because it was painful to do any form of exerise. I encourage you to do some research on it and possibly to help athletes in educating them on this increasingly common injury which can be obtain through running. Thanks again for all that you do!

    • Thank you for your kind words Sarah! I really enjoy talking about running, and my hope is that I talk about something that will help someone else, or they can relate to. It also holds me accountable for my own training 🙂 How is your hip doing now?

      • You are so sweet for asking! It’s doing much better. SInce my surgery in December, I just got the “OK” from my PT to start adding in short sperts of running to my PT work. Thankfully I had a great surgeon who specializes in this so I am reassured my joint is looking better than before, just dealing with muscle imbalance which is causing tightness (rotation isn’t very good right now). It’s looking good though! Are you familiar with this type of injury at all?

        • I’m glad things are going well! I am not familiar with that type of hip issue. However, I am familiar with unbalances due to muscle overcompensation. Are you stretching enough? That and a foam roller might help.

  4. Hi Courtney. I am running a marathon race event tomorrow, 6/1/14. I’m experiencing hip bursitis. In the this last taper week, I’ve rested (no running), iced, and used naproxen (Aleve). It’s helped but the the irritation when walking comes & goes. I am fearful of causing greater injury, but don’t want to miss my race. What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Celia!

      I am sorry to hear about your hip- I know how frustrating that can be especially since you’ve trained so much!

      I am very stubborn and would go to the event. However- if you get to running and the pain does not go away or decrease you should stop. Start slow and ease into a good rhythm. The last thing you want to do is cause further injury. You’ll just have to listen to your body.

      GOOD LUCK and please let me know how it goes!

  5. Hi Courtney –
    Thanks so much for your feedback in May. I finished the San Diego Rock-n-Roll Marathon on 6/01/14. My hip allowed me the first 13.1 miles without trouble but the last 13.1 was a challenge. I ran for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), finished all 26.2 miles, and counted my blessings along the way – it was a great day!
    My hip issue turned out to be tendonitus in my gluteus medius muscle. A slow healer, unfortunately. Did an x-ray to eliminate any question of fracture, was prescribed an anti-inflammatory + physical therapy sessions. No hill running for now – run flats for 40 minutes max. Was told that maybe, if this calms down, I can make it to my next race event that I’m training for, the 2014 Nike Women’s San Francisco Half Marathon in Oct. (also for LLS). I was told that I probably set my sights on this 13.1 race too soon after finishing the June 26.2 mile race. I just love to run, running to raise awareness to eradicating cancer is also a passion. So while it’s hard to “behave” on the modified running I’m allowed right now, I keep my sights on my goal and toe the line. Any thoughts on this injury, and on spacing out race events?

    • Celia,
      I was actually thinking about you the other day and wondering how your marathon went. That is awesome that you finished despite the challenging last half.

      Any type of running injury is frustrating, but especially if it is a slower healer! Definitely listen to your PT and do not run hills as they engage your glutes the most.

      If you were given the okay for 40 minutes a day and there is no pain I would stick with that. That would seem enough to cover most weekly runs, but it would not be enough for long runs.

      For the half in October do you have a date in your mind when you would be starting to train for it? If I were you I would really listen to the PT and stick with the no more than 40 minutes and keep taking the anti-inflammatory medicine. As frustrating as it is you do not want to further agitate your muscle.

  6. Hi Courtney.
    The 2014 Nike Women’s San Francisco half-marathon event is in Oct. The training started in May (it overlapped with the 6/1 marathon event). Those of us who ran the 6/1 summer event, merged into training for the fall event. After the marathon, I rested. Because of my glute issue, I did not run for 2 weeks. I ran 6 miles 6/24, but have not run since my doctor visit & his gluteus medius tendonitis diagnosis. I walked 4 miles last Sat., to test the waters, but my glute was flaring up at 2 miles just walking. I did 3 miles on the elliptical & had no glute pain. So the impact of walking/running aggrevates my glute but the zero-impact elliptical does not. I’m hoping I can keep up the cardio on the elliptical, run with the group training on Saturdays, avoid hills for now, follow the P.T.’s treatment, and see how things are by late Aug. If things are better, I can step up training for the Oct race. It’s hard to not run but the goal is being ready for the Oct event. I just wondered if you ever experienced glute tendonitis?

    • Celia,

      Good idea to play it smart and get your cario in other ways, such as the elliptical. Since we know you can run a marathon try to not stress out about the half (I know it’s hard not too!). Are you also icing your gluteus medius? I have never experienced that type of injury before so I am not sure how long to expect for recovery. Do you have access to a swimming pool? I did pool running a few weeks back when I had an aggravated muscle, and it allowed me to keep up my cardio intensity without putting stress on my muscles. Let me know how recovery goes please! I’ll be thinking of you!

      Courtney

  7. Hello, I that a grade 1 tear in my hamstring about a month ago whilst running and had rested it for 2-3 weeks since I have been back I have had pain in my hip/glute area, do you think this pain I caused by my hamstring?

    • Tyler,

      The pain you have in your flute/hip area could be caused by your hamstring. The hamstring and glutes/hip region all work together to move your leg. If one of them is too weak, the other areas try to compensate for its weakness; which could cause pain.

      How is your hamstring now? You may want to incorporate strength training for your hamstring, gluteus, and hip area.

      Courtney

  8. Hello there!

    I am training for my first-ever 15K. Today I’ll be doing a 5-mile long run. I’m about 95% sure I have hip bursitis – all the symptoms (especially the specific ones) fit. It’s quite painful to run, and about a half mile in, there’s the pain. It’s been doing this ever since I did the 2-mile run. Oh, and when I say “run”, it’s more like “walk and run” 🙂

    I’m happy to have seen this. I’m aware of the dynamic warm-ups/stretches from my sister-in-law (she ran the Chicago marathon last year). Also been doing the ice/Advil/heating pad thing. Think I will incorporate the foam roller massage into my routine as well.

    Wanted to ask – how important are fitted shoes in regards to hip bursitis?

    Aldona

    • Hi Aldona!

      I’m sorry you’re having hip issues- definitely no fun. I think having the right kind of shoes can solve many running problems, and are crucial for training. They can be a cheap fix to a problem.

      Ill-fitted shoes can cause you to land funny, thus affecting your IT band, feet, and hips. I would strongly recommend going to a running store and have your feet fitted for proper running shoes.

      When if your 15k? That is awesome you are running one 🙂

      Courtney

      • Hi Courtney,

        I got fitted yesterday and did my five-mile run. Aside from some hip twinges on uneven ground, it was pretty nice! Was not limping home afterwards like the last few times. Not sure my one foot cared for the fitted shoes though – we shall see.

        I’m doing the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago this November. Today is technically the beginning of my 5th week of training. Will be half way through at the end of the week!

  9. hi, I know this is an old post but it caught my attention and I’m hoping you still may respond. I recently went from training for a half marathon to a 50k and increased miles a bit fast. I started having hip pain and after lots of online reading think it’s hip bursitis. That said there is one variable that I’m not sure of that I’m hoping you can help with. When I start running I have the typical pain on the side or front of my hip but then around 3 or 4 miles in the pain will go away. it returns once I stop running and have cooled down though. Sleeping on my side is definitely the time it’s the most painful. Does this sound right?

    • Hi Jamie!

      I am impressed and in awe that you are doing a 50k! I think that is awesome! Any hip pain is painful and no fun, and it does sound like hip bursitis. Of course you would need a doctor for an official diagnosis, but having experienced it before I do have an idea of what it feels like. When is your 50k? I ask because you may want to rest your hips for a couple days and ice A LOT. You most likely added too much mileage too soon, like you said, which will agitate your muscles, tendons and ligaments. Are you do any hip strengthening exercises? That will really help reduce any future inflammation as your hips get stronger. I use a lot of resistance bands when I do hip strengthening exercises, or a hip adductor and abductor machine at my local gym. If you have access to a pool I would suggest that while you give yourself a short break from running because it will still give you the cardio workout you need, but it is MUCH more gentle on the body.

      Courtney

  10. Hi I know this post is kinda of old, hoping you will still get this! I have been suffering from what I believe is bilateral hip bursitis. I have always been a runner and recently (Nov 2016) started to noticed the pain on the right hip after doing about a week and a half of hill repeats with my hubby. We would start from home and run about a half mile out to the hill, sprint up hill and walk down, repeat 8-10x. Anyway, I eventually started to feel it on the left side as well. I feel like I can name about 10 things I have done/did differently this past year that made this hip bursitis pop up (desk job, side sleeper, minimal stretching, weight gain, changing up my running gait to accommodate the increased weight, driving a sports car, taking the stairs everyday up to my office on the 3rd floor, and it was prob time for new running shoes). I went to the ER Jan 2017….when it was so bad one day I could barely walk and he said “sounds like overuse, hip bursitis or tendonitis” No MRI…just a referral to PT almost four weeks later. Well I nursed my hips the entire time, no running..nada. So, when my PT appt finally came up Feb 8th…I was in significantly less pain than my ER visit. She said “Nope not hip bursitis, you just have very tight IT band”. Again no MRI…just sent home with a foam roller, a few stretches, and told to return in 4 weeks! Oh and before leaving she had me jump on the treadmill to run half a mile…I stopped after a lap because I could def fell something and did not want to aggravate it and then have to start the healing process all over again……BUT it was too late…the next morning I was back at square one. Just like the day I presented to the ER! *sigh*. Since that last lap I have not ran at all. I have been icing, rolling, stretching, strengthening and RESEARCHING i.e. Googling! It seems as though there is no cure! Can you list a few steps you would take if you where in my situation? I do not want to do what I have been reading most people do which is multiple cortisone injections which only seem to mask the pain. I want to get down to the cause…the underlying issue! You don’t just wake up with bursitis in both hips! Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    • First of all… OUCH AND SORRY! I have been in your situation, and it is awful! While I did not ever take my situation to the hospital or a PT, I did all of the other things you have been doing (stretching, icing, rolling, etc.). The thing that fixed my IT band issues was a proper fitting pair of shoes. I would go that route, as it is usually the cheapest and quickest factor to determine if that is the case. I go to a specific running store to have them help me. As soon as I got the right pair of shoes (Suacony Hurricanes) I was immediately fixed! I hope that is the case for you, as it sounds like you really have exhausted all of your other options and you are doing all of the correct preventative things. As far as hill running (which is fantastic), I would slow down and start with only one or two repeats and very gradually increase that. Please let me know if shoes help. I’ll be thinking of you, and hoping for a speedy recovery!

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