Hip Pain After Running: A Slightly Sarcastic Guide
Experiencing hip pain after running?
Well, suck-it-up. No, not really. You should probably do something about your pain unless you want to run like a cripple.
You don’t need a running fanatic, a pain expert, or even Dr. Seuss to help you figure out that there’s a problem.
It’s obvious that running with pain won’t help you achieve super-human abilities. That’s right, no web-slinging, x-ray vision, or super-strength.
Just more pain in your hips every time your done running. And nobody that’s right-in-the-head likes to suffer through pain, so lets fix it.
I’m simply going to layout what your problem is and give you some actionable steps to eliminate the hip pain. If you’re too stubborn to try it, then take that up with yourself.
Everyone else, here we go.
IT Band (iliotibial band)
Your IT band is used extensively when you walk and run. When I say “used,” I mean it’s practically abused.
Stand with your side against a wall, then touch the front-outer-corner of your hip. Your IT band runs from around that point down to your knee.
If your pain is in that outer-area, your IT band is a definite suspect.
This type of arthritis occurs when a flexible tissue, called cartilage, located in joints between your bones deteriorates.
The repetitive impact caused by running has the unfortunate ability to break down your cartilage. That stinks for you, me too I guess….
Once your cartilage wears thin, your pain gets worse as your bones begin to rub together. The bone on bone contact can cause painful inflammation in the hip joint.
Correct running mechanics can significantly help save your cartilage from unnecessary wear and tear.
This is just overstretching the muscle tissue. It happens to the best of us.
Your hip has a number of muscles that it interacts with.
If you have localized pain, bruising, and/or feelings of tightness you may have strained a muscle during your run.
Hip Bursitis (trochanteric bursitis)
If you feel pain in your hip socket, your bursae are being irritated. What are bursae? They’re fluid-filled sacs that act like cushions. They help keep your hip rotation smooth and comfortable.
While your running they help glide your leg through its range of motion on every stride.
Try rotating your leg in a circular motion. This rotates the bone in the hip socket. Notice any pain? Running and other things may make the pain more obvious, which may make it hurt the most after you run.
Rest is typically prescribed by doctors, but hip mobility practice can greatly help fix the issues that are causing this problem.
Stress Fractures—It’s not [completely] broken
These bad boys are little cracks in the bone. They can happen in any bone, thus they occur in the hip.
So, what causes stress fractures? Well, thanks for asking.
Repeated stress, irregular movements, muscle weakness, and muscle imbalance usually do.
I think you can see how running and hip pain fit together here. Each run may make the fracture even larger, increasing the pain.
Proper rest, mobility work, and strength training can do wonders for stress fractures.
Yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like. No fun, right? So do this to make this explanation longer: Take a finger on your left hand, this represents the nerve. Now, pinch it using your other hand. That’s kinda what is happening here except it is bone and muscle instead of your fingers, and that’s what is causing you pain (duh).
To help relieve the pain in your hip, you could do the following:
- Take some drugs—the legal ones of course.
- Let someone you don’t know cut you wide open (they call it surgery).
- Do some physical mobility work. I’d pick this one if I were you.
No need to worry, it isn’t as painful as it sounds. It is essentially a specific instance of a pinched nerve. Here the sciatic nerve, which runs from your hip through your thigh to your lower leg, is irritated by the piriformis muscle. Hence the name piriformis syndrome.
This issue usually occurs in people that remain in seated positions for long periods of time. It is also somewhat difficult to identify, so medical imaging is usually used to rule out other possible diagnoses. It’s process of elimination and you’re the guinea pig.
The way you fix this pain is pretty much the same as for other pinched nerves.
Take some of that “stuff,” have some surgery, or do some mobility and strength training. Take your pick.
So, let’s take one last measure to nail down the big trouble makers:
Overuse: Use it, don’t abuse it. Like all great things there is a limit on running. Make sure you give your body time to recover.
Muscle Imbalance/Muscle Weakness: Get that weak stuff outta here! Sure, no body is perfectly balanced but large imbalances can quickly cause injury. Being too weak is equally as dangerous. Get stronger.
Poor Mobility: Touching your toes isn’t the only thing you should be able to do. Eliminate hip pain after running by devoting time to maintaining your body, because it’s all fun and games until you’ve got hip pain. Good one, eh?
Incorrect Running Mechanics: Don’t run like a duck, Quasimodo, or Winnie the Pooh. Running properly will make your body move faster and your hips last longer.
Footwear: Using solid running shoes can have a major impact on your performance abilities and pain prevention. It’s not a good idea to run a marathon in shoes with five inch heels just because you want a little extra attention.