Bust a jointRunning has a massive impact on your hips, so try not to ignore the aches and pains as the last thing you want is to have to replace it. By Glynn Davies Most runners will experience aching hips towards the end of a long run that disappears once you’ve stopped, but what do you do if it doesn’t go away after a few days of rest?
Introduction to the hip
The hip is a ball and socket joint, the ball being at the top of the thighbone, which moves within the ‘socket’ in the pelvis. Large forces act on the hip joints during running; in standing one third of body weight acts on the hip joint and this figure is increased to four times body weight during running. So it’s no wonder that the hip joint and surrounding muscle, ligaments and tendons can be prone to the odd ache after a while.
Causes & symptoms of hip pain
The demands of running can lead to runners being prone to having overactive hip flexors (front of the hip) and weak, underactive gluteal muscles. This imbalance over many miles of running can eventually lead to pain. There are many possible causes of hip pain in runners, below are some of the more common injuries and their symptoms. It’s strongly advisable to seek guidance from a sports physiotherapist to make sure you’re targeting the right area.
Muscle Injuries e.g. hip flexors, tensor fascia lata (TFL), gluteals.Symptoms: usually tight, achy and you can often put your finger on exactly where it hurts
Joint Pain e.g. osteoarthritis (wear and tear of joint cartilage). It should be noted that there is research to suggest that running is not a prime cause of this.Symptoms: deep dull ache in the hip, buttock or groin that is often stiff in the morning and at the start of exercise
Groin Injuries e.g. ranging from strains to sportsman’s hernia. It is best to seek professional advice to help with these as if left too long they can become a long-term problem.Symptoms: Sharp or achy and often on the inner thigh region
Referred Pain e.g. the source of the pain may not be the hip at all but may be associated with the lower back.Symptoms: Vague shooting pain that is difficult to pinpoint
Top tips to help prevent hip injuries
- Strengthen the gluteal muscles to help provide stability to the hip joint so there is less shearing when you run
- Grade your approach to increasing training load or intensity – make sure you only every increase your mileage gradually
- Make sure you wear appropriate running shoes for your foot-type
- Invest in some soft-tissue massage or use a foam-roller / spiky-ball to loosen off muscles if they get tight
- Work on core stability and balance to improve control around the hip and pelvis and reduce any unnecessary loading around the hip