Painful hip injuries can quickly bring your training to a halt. Once you’re injured, you have to spend time going through the recovery process. When you eventually get back to training, you have to face performance declines and work hard just to return to your previous capabilities. Hip injuries are not fun to have.
Due to the painful consequences that result from injuring your hips, it makes sense to take preventative measures to avoid the hip pain the results from these injuries.
To start down the path of injury prevention, you should first know the common injuries that cause hip pain in runners. That way, you will know exactly what it is that you are trying to avoid. With that said, here are the most common sources of hip pain in runners…
The overstretching of muscle tissue that causes tearing in the tissue is referred to as a strain. Strains generally cause varying amounts of pain depending on the severity of the tears, and can occur in any muscle tissue. In the hip area, the hip flexors and hamstrings are the muscles that are commonly strained by runners.
Excessive impact forces can cause small cracks in your bones over time. These narrow cracks are called stress fractures. In the hips of runners, the neck of the femur is generally the location that experiences fracturing.
Your body has little gel-filled pouches called bursa that reduce friction between bones and tissues by acting like slippery surfaces. Your bursa can cause hip pain if they are irritated and become inflamed. Bursitis pain is commonly found on the outside of the hips, caused by the bursa that reduces friction between the IT band and the corner of your hip bone called the greater trochanter.
The injuries mentioned above are primarily considered to be “overuse” injuries, which means that your body is not recovering well enough to prevent them from occurring. In most cases, your body has these problems because of issues that can be fixed by two things: mobility work and strength training. To help you in these two areas, here are a few exercises for you to try out…
Sample Exercises to Relieve & Prevent Hip Pain
We’re going to start this off with a little strength training.
You can do this with or without weight, just make sure that you can squat properly without weight before attempting to with weight. Here is how you squat:
- Position your heels underneath the outsides of your shoulders.
- Stand up straight and tighten your abdominals and your back. Your spine should remain in a neutral position throughout the movement.
- Rotate your feet about 30 degrees.
- As you begin to squat, focus on moving your hips down and back. Do not just drop your hips straight down.
- Externally rotate your knees by forcing them out to the sides. Do not let your knees cave inward.
- Go down all the way. The crease of your hip should go below the top of your knees.
- Once you achieve this position, just drive back to the top (AKA stand-up).
Weightlifting helps to reduce the risk of stress fractures by strengthening your bones and the surrounding muscles that support them. Stronger supporting muscles will act as better shock absorbers to reduce the forces placed on your bones while running.
Hip Flexor Stretch
The image assumes that the hip flexors on the right side of the hip are hurting. This stretch is pretty simple, here is what you need to do:
- Take your left leg and place the heel about a foot in front of your body.
- Then, take your right leg and place the heel about two feet behind your body.
- Keep your feet pointed forward as shown in the image.
- Relax your hips and try to push your hips forward a bit.
- You should feel tightness near the area in the image that is marked with a red dot.
Your hip flexors may be tight from sitting in a chair for long periods of time. This stretch will help to loosen them up, so you don’t hurt them during your next run.
IT band “C” stretch
The image and the following description assume that your left side is the injured side. Here’s how the stretch goes:
- Cross your left leg behind your right leg.
- Allow your right knee to bend a little while keeping your left knee locked.
- Then, lean your torso to the right while pushing your hips to the leg.
- You should feel the tissue stretch near the area marked by the red dot in the photo.
This stretch is great for helping to prevent and relieve the hip pain that is associated with hip bursitis and IT band injuries. By stretching your IT band, you are typically able to relieve pressure on the bursa that your IT band interacts with. IT band pain is a common running injury, this stretch will also help reduce the risk of IT band strains.