If you’re a runner, you know that injury is just part of the sport. Whether your pain involves shin splints, knee pain or other types of pain, it should be taken seriously and not shrugged off as something that will go away on its own. Yes, in some cases it will, but in most cases it won’t go away on its own and you’ll need to take some sort of action to treat it. While not as common as a knee sprain or torn ligament, hip pain after running can be a significant symptom of something serious going on, which is why we decided to cover the topic today. If this is something that affects you right now, or maybe has in the past, we suggest that you keep reading.
What Causes Hip Pain after Running?
Here are some of the most common hip pain causes that you need to know about, ranging from mild to serious in their amount of pain (as well as its recovery period):
- Bursitis: A fancy title for the overuse of your muscles, hip pain after running is often caused by this. It simply means that you are pushing your body too far and overdoing it as far as your muscles are concerned. This often feels like a burn or an ache specific to your hips. You often will feel it after the run and not during it, so it’s an important symptom to watch for.
- Strength imbalances: if you have one leg that is longer than the other, or you have a weakness on one side of your body, you’ll find that your “weaker” hip will start to hurt after a running session. This is due to the fact that one half of your body is stronger than the other half, and that means the one side is overworked while the other side is a-okay. This often happens if you participate in a sport that is more focused on one side of the body than the other. In this situation, you’ll often feel more tired (or feel more aches and pains) on one side of your body.
- Cartilage tears: In some cases, it’s possible to rip the cartilage on your hip. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to diagnose since it doesn’t always come with blinding, long-term pain. In some cases, you’ll just here a clicking sound with the occasional sharp burst of pain when you move. It is often felt during running, but can be felt after it as well. Either way, it’s serious enough.
- Stress fractures: If you are running too hard, especially if you don’t stretch yourself out properly before and/or after, stress fractures are certainly possible. They are tiny, minor breaks in your hip joints, due to the high impact and friction that is caused when you run. In this case, you should stop as soon as you feel these kinds of pains and rest as much as possible. If you continue to put more pressure on your hips, it will only will lead to a potentially more serious breakage. (Note -- This often feels like a sharp pain whenever you put weight on your hip, similar to how a traditional fracture would feel.)
For more information on potential hip problems, have a look at our post “Common Hip Problems and How to Deal with Them“.
How To Treat Your Hip Pain
If you are feeling as though you have any of these hip pain symptoms, whether mild to severe, rarely or frequently, knowing how to deal with them is important to protecting your health both in the short- and long-term. Here are a few tips and tricks that can help:
- Rest: This one is obvious, but you might be surprised how many people just simply try to “run through the pain”. A common misconception is that running through your pain is going to make you stronger, but the reality is that it can (and will most likely) make things worse. While some mild aches can be ignored, they should only be ignored once you visit a medical professional and get them to sign off on it. Make sure that you rest up and give yourself a few days to a week off to make sure that your body has time to heal itself.
- Ice: Other than pain medication, try to ice the area when you can so that you don’t feel the pain as much as you would otherwise. This just helps you moderate your comfort and reduce any kind of mild or more serious inflammation. We suggest you give our cold therapy wrap a try (which can give you some great relief after a long run):
- Consult a medical professional: We mentioned it above and we’re going to repeat it since it is very important. Regardless of whether the pain is mild of severe, hip pain can often lead to more serious problems down the road if you ignore it. A good medical professional will be able to diagnose what the problem is, or at least point you in the right direction. It will most likely involve getting an x-ray/MRI done, but at least you’ll know for sure what’s going on. Then you and your doctor can come up with a game plan to treat and get rid of the pain.
- Retrain your posture: It might be time to get your running form looked at. If you aren’t a professional runner, then it’s highly possible that you are not running with the correct form, which is more common than you think. It might be worth your while to consult a trainer or a physiotherapist to help you correct your posture. It’s really the only way to tell if you are running properly. A good trainer can teach you the correct way so that you don’t need to unlearn bad habits later on. If you are not interested in hiring someone, then have a look at the following video for general things to watch out for when you run:
Pain means that something is wrong and your body is trying to tell you to slow down. Despite being told “no pain, no gain”, it’s important to stop running and allow yourself time to heal. Since running is one of the hardest forms of physical activity on the body, you do have to allow your body to rest and recover if you don’t want your problems to be long-term. No matter how motivated you are to keep moving, your body is in charge of telling you when to run and for how long. You just need to listen to it. Hip pain after running doesn’t mean that you have to give it up for good. It just means that you need to be smarter about it.