Hip Pain Running: Guide to Fixing your Running Pains
If you have hip pain while running, evaluate a few things before jumping back into it.
This guide will help you determine the cause of your running injury and give you some options for fixing it.
Here’s a list of the most common injuries that cause hip pain in runners:
- Hip Stress Fractures –small cracks in the bone
- Hip Flexor Injury—muscle strain in the upper groin area
- IT Band Injury—outside of your hip
- Osteoarthritis—wear and tear arthritis
- Hip Bursitis—inflammation of fluid filled sacs in your hip joint
Okay, let’s get to it.
First, take a look at your running mechanics. Poor mechanics are the primary cause of hip injuries in runners.
To start it off, let’s touch on one major point:
Heel striking is BAD.
Heel striking is exactly what it sounds like. It occurs when the heel is the first part of the foot to collide with the ground. Check out the picture, to see what I mean.
You can see that the heel is clearly the first part of the foot to contact the ground. From this position, runners role forward onto the forefoot to push off in the next stride.
So, where’s the problem?
Heel striking transfers dangerous impact forces through your heel, up your leg, and into your hip. These collision forces can easily cause stress fractures and quickly destroy the cartilage in your knees, hips, and spine.
What’s the solution?
It’s called forefoot running. Once again, it’s also exactly what it sounds like.
Instead of landing with your heel, you land with the forefoot. Check out the picture.
Forefoot running allows the calf muscles and achilles tendon to stretch and absorb the shock from the ground, then bring the heel down to gently touch the ground.
Unlike heel striking where the impact forces are transferred up your leg, forefoot running allows your calf muscles and achilles tendon to act like rubber bands and re-use the absorbed energy to propel yourself forward.
This makes forefoot running significantly more efficient and safer than heel striking.
If heel striking is like running into a car head on, forefoot running is like glancing off one of the corners.
Next up on the list is: Addressing your Mobility
Mobility problems include joint and soft tissue restrictions, tight muscles, and range of motion problems. Basically, your mobility is how well your body moves around.
If you have joint restrictions or soft tissue restrictions, there is a higher probability that you will suffer hip pain running.
For example, soft tissue restrictions can limit your leg’s range of motion, causing you to heel strike. As you already know, heel striking then causes a large number of other problems.
Heel striking is not the only running error that causes hip pain.
Here are a few other common places people mess up their running mechanics:
- Bouncing—literally bouncing up and down
- Over-striding—landing in front of your center of gravity
- Excessive hip and shoulder rotation
- Duck feet—running with the feet splayed like a duck
- Excessive leaning at waist
- Problems caused by mobility restrictions
“Running” is not just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other faster than you do when walking.
There is specific technique involved.
Running can be done correctly, and it can be done incorrectly.
Now, let’s talk about your warm up.
Warming-up before running decreases the probability of hip injuries by preparing your body for the task. Pretty much everyone knows it’s a good idea, but not everyone does it.
If you already warm up consistently, your body thanks you.
If you don’t, your body wants you to change your habits. It’s for your own benefit.
The grand finale: Your Running Shoes
If you’re like most people, your running shoes are terrible. Don’t take it personally, I will explain why.
Here’s someone in a normal running shoe and someone barefoot:
What position does the typical running shoe put the heel in?
It elevates it above the rest of the foot. The problem with this is that it makes people more likely to heel strike.
I am not saying to go run barefoot. Shoes are important because they protect against dangerous objects.
The problem with the typical $50 running shoe is that it significantly elevates the heel about the rest of the foot which increases heel striking.
So what should you wear when you run?
- No elevated heel.The height of the shoe sole should be pretty constant.
- Elevated heels encourage heel striking.
- A flexible sole.
- No “arch support.” The reason is that it prevents your muscles & ligaments from acting as shock absorbers.
These types of shoes are usually referred to as minimalistic shoes, these are what you want.