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Hip Injury from Running

Hip Injury from Running in SAN RAMON, CA

Do you feel a sharp pain in or around your hip joint? Or a burning sensation? Perhaps a dull ache? Whether mild, moderate, or severe, hip injuries from running often cause pain. You may feel the pain right in your hip joint or in the areas surrounding your hip.

The bad news is that your hip pain is probably an overuse injury that could be:

  • A stress fracture
  • Hip tendon inflammation
  • Ligament injury
  • Muscle pain
  • Hamstring tendinopathy

Hip injuries from running can be difficult to narrow down because you may not feel all the pain right in your hip. You might feel burning, aching, or sharp pains in your thigh, groin, buttock, front hip pain, or outside hip pain. Once your physical therapist identifies the source of your pain, the location provides clues about the cause.

Hip Joint Basics

Your hip joint is a specialized ball and socket joint. The top of your thigh bone has a ball on it that fits inside a cup-shaped socket in your pelvis. The ball-and-sockets make your hips highly mobile, so you can move your legs forward and backward, out to the side, and perform internal and external rotation.

Your hip joint is all held together by muscles and ligaments secured to bones by tendons. These soft tissues support hip movement. Large and small muscles work together to make controlled, powerful movements.

Your hip joint also needs lubrication for muscles and tendons to move smoothly. This lubrication is provided by tiny fluid-filled sacs (bursae).

Common Causes Of Hip Injury from Running – SAN RAMON CA

Most commonly, a hip injury from running is due to running for too long or otherwise overdoing exercises. This strains or inflames the soft tissues in your hip joints.  

Muscle Pulls and Tears

Your hip pain may originate from an injury to your quads, hamstrings, or glutes. The location of your pain is the best clue as to which muscle is damaged. The back bottom of your thigh could be your hamstring. Front hip pain could be your quads.

Inflammation of the Bursae

Minor traumas or overtraining cause inflammation of the bursae. You may have swelling, sharp pains, stiffness, and specific tenderness at your hip joint.

  • If your Greater Trochanteric Bursae are inflamed, you have trochanteric bursitis. You’ll know if you have a deep, aching outside hip pain that worsens at night.
  • If your Iliopsoas Bursae are inflamed, you have iliopsoas bursitis. You’ll know by the tenderness in your groin area. Plus, you’ll probably have a sharp pain that radiates down and causes knee pain or front hip or thigh pain.

Labral Tears

The outer rim of your hip socket has a ring of cartilage. This ring, the labrum, keeps your thigh bone ball in place and stabilizes your hip joints. A labral tear often comes from repetitive activities, like running. You’ll know because you’ll have an aching pain, and you’ll hear a clicking sound from your hip every time you move.


When the cartilage surrounding your hip breaks down and gets brittle, you have hip osteoarthritis. You’ll notice pain and inflammation in your hip joint and may have knee pain, too. Cartilage degenerates with age, and the space narrows between the bones, so there’s less cushioning.  

Stress Fractures

Stress fractures come from wearing the wrong shoes or overtraining, which damages the neck of the femur. Muscle imbalances in the hips may also lead to stress fractures. The bone may break completely, or a stress fracture can be a partial break in the bone. You’ll notice groin pain whenever you perform any weight-bearing activity.

Iliotibial (IT) Band Syndrome

IT band syndrome comes from overuse and repetitive movements that irritate or cause tightness of the iliotibial band (IT band). You’ll notice hip, thigh, and knee pain and a popping sound when you move.

Risk Factors For Hip Injury from Running

Risk factors for hip injuries from running include:

  • Sudden increase in distance
  • Speed work
  • Not warming up
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insufficient caloric and nutrient intake
  • Excessive running downhill
  • Poor form
  • Weak glutes
  • Muscle imbalance in the back and hips
  • Leg length differences
  • Trail running
  • Tight muscles in the hips
  • Overstriding
  • Overtraining
  • Inadequate rest and recovery

Physical Therapy for Your Hip Injury from Running

If you have a hip injury from running, whether outside hip pain or front hip pain, the first step is an assessment by an experienced physical therapist at Ironhorse Physical Therapy & Pilates in San Ramon, CA.

They consider your medical history, asking you questions like:

  • Did you have a specific injury event?
  • Do you have any swelling or fever?
  • Does your hip feel better when you move around or rest?
  • Do you feel better in the morning when you get up or as the day goes on?
  • Do you have a family history of arthritis or joint pain?

Then, your physical therapist performs a physical examination to check the function of your hips, lower back, and legs. They also check your gait, weight-bearing ability, and range of motion. This specifically helps to discover any muscle imbalances or other conditions that are at the root of your hip pain.

Your physical therapist may also recommend imaging tests.

Physical Therapy Treatment Options For Hip Injury from Running

Physical therapy usually begins with hands-on manual therapy to help reduce the pain and inflammation. Your physical therapist will also likely recommend using the RICE protocol (rest, ice, compression, and elevation.) This combination encourages your hip injury to start healing enough to begin more active therapies.

Your physical therapist at Ironhorse Physical Therapy & Pilates in San Ramon, CA, uses targeted strengthening exercises to improve your mobility and flexibility. Ultrasound, heat, and ice may continue in your therapy plan to soothe inflammation in your hip.

How to Prevent Hip Injury When Running:

Often there is nothing you can really do to prevent hip injury while running without some physical therapy sessions. With even a slight imbalance in your back muscles or hips, the repetitive motions of running can cause pain.

The final phase of your physical therapy sessions will include more targeted exercises to prevent future injury.

Here are some general preventive tips for managing hip pain as a runner.

  • Do a specific warm-up before running. Ask your physical therapist for suggestions specific to your condition(s)
  • Choose your running path carefully. Run on even surfaces
  • Consider your gait when you choose your footwear and change them often
  • Maintain good posture when you walk, stand, sit, and run. Your posture helps your muscles, ligaments, and tendons function normally and stay balanced
  • Add the adductor squeeze exercise to your routine (hold with a bent or straight knee)
  • Develop a targeted exercise routine to maintain balance, strength and flexibility for your bones and muscles
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Cool down after every run
  • Drink lots of water before, during and after every run
  • Don’t push too hard

In Conclusion

Hip pain when running could be from overtraining, specific running injuries, or another health condition like IT band syndrome, a stress fracture, osteoarthritis, or tears in your labral cartilage. The repetitive action of running makes hip pain more common in runners and athletes. Typically, you can manage hip pain using the RICE protocol. Still, regular visits to your physical therapist at Physical Therapy & Pilates in San Ramon, CA, can keep you running pain-free.