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Hip Pain and Running

hip pain physical therapy

A Guide for the Active Adult with Hip Pain

As an active adult, running is not just a way to stay fit—it’s a lifestyle. Whether you’re training for your next marathon or simply enjoying the freedom of an early morning jog, running offers numerous physical and mental health benefits. However, hip pain can become a significant hindrance, affecting not only your performance but also your overall quality of life. Understanding the causes, prevention, and treatment options for hip pain is crucial to maintaining your running routine and overall well-being.

Understanding Hip Pain

Hip pain can originate from various sources, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones. It’s essential to identify the root cause of the pain to effectively address and treat it. Common conditions leading to hip pain in runners include:

  1. Hip Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursa, a small fluid-filled sac that reduces friction between tissues.
  2. Hip Labral Tear: Damage to the ring of cartilage (labrum) that follows the outside rim of the hip joint socket.
  3. Hip Flexor Strain: Overuse or acute injury to the muscles that help lift your knee and bend at the waist.
  4. Osteoarthritis: Degenerative joint disease that can cause pain, swelling, and reduced motion in your hips.
  5. Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS): Inflammation of the IT band, which runs from the hip to the knee and can cause pain on the outside of the hip.

Causes of Hip Pain in Runners

1. Overuse and Repetitive Stress

Running involves repetitive motion and high impact, which can lead to overuse injuries. The continuous pounding on the pavement can strain the muscles, tendons, and joints, leading to inflammation and pain. This is particularly common if you have recently increased your running distance or intensity without allowing adequate time for your body to adapt.

2. Poor Running Mechanics

Improper running form can place excessive stress on the hips. Common issues include overstriding, inadequate hip extension, and poor core stability. These mechanical faults can lead to imbalances and increased pressure on specific areas of the hip joint.

3. Inadequate Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Skipping warm-up and cool-down routines can leave your muscles and joints unprepared for the physical demands of running. A proper warm-up increases blood flow and flexibility, reducing the risk of injury, while a cool-down helps to gradually reduce your heart rate and stretch tight muscles.

4. Weakness or Imbalance in Muscles

Muscle imbalances, especially in the core and hip area, can contribute to hip pain. Weakness in the glutes, hamstrings, or core muscles can cause other muscles to overcompensate, leading to strain and pain in the hip region.

5. Inappropriate Footwear

Wearing the wrong type of running shoes can affect your gait and lead to hip pain. Shoes that do not provide adequate support or have worn-out cushioning can increase the impact on your hips with each step.

Prevention Strategies for Hip Pain

Strengthening and Conditioning

Incorporate strength training exercises targeting the hips, glutes, and core into your fitness routine. Exercises such as squats, lunges, planks, and hip bridges can help improve muscle strength and stability, reducing the risk of hip pain.

Proper Running Technique

Work on your running form to ensure you are not placing unnecessary stress on your hips. Consider working with a coach or physical therapist to analyze your gait and make necessary adjustments. Focus on maintaining a slight forward lean, landing with your foot under your center of mass, and engaging your core.

Adequate Warm-Up and Cool-Down

Always start your runs with a dynamic warm-up to prepare your muscles and joints for the activity ahead. Include exercises like leg swings, high knees, and butt kicks. After your run, perform static stretches focusing on the hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes to enhance flexibility and prevent stiffness.

Gradual Progression

Avoid sudden increases in your running mileage or intensity. Follow the 10% rule, which suggests increasing your total weekly mileage by no more than 10% each week. This allows your body to adapt gradually and reduces the risk of overuse injuries.

Choosing the Right Footwear

Invest in a good pair of running shoes that provide adequate support and cushioning for your running style and foot type. Replace your shoes regularly, as worn-out shoes can contribute to improper gait and increased stress on your hips.

Treatment Options for Hip Pain

Rest and Recovery

If you experience hip pain, it’s crucial to give your body time to heal. Reduce or temporarily stop running and focus on low-impact activities like swimming or cycling to maintain your fitness without putting stress on your hips.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a highly effective treatment option for hip pain. A physical therapist can help identify the underlying cause of your pain, develop a personalized treatment plan, and guide you through exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and mechanics. Manual therapy techniques, such as massage and joint mobilization, can also alleviate pain and improve function.


Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help manage pain and reduce inflammation. However, these should be used sparingly and in conjunction with other treatment methods.


In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. This is typically considered when other treatments have not been effective.


Surgery is rarely needed for hip pain but may be considered for severe cases, such as significant labral tears or advanced osteoarthritis. Minimally invasive procedures, such as arthroscopy, can be effective for certain conditions.


Hip pain doesn’t have to sideline your running goals. By understanding the causes, implementing preventive measures, and seeking appropriate treatment, you can continue to enjoy running well into your 40s and beyond. At Rehab 2 Perform, we specialize in helping runners like you overcome hip pain and get back to doing what you love.

Free Injury Consultation Offer

Are you struggling with hip pain? Don’t let it keep you from achieving your running goals. Contact us today to schedule a free injury consultation with one of our experienced physical therapists. We’ll assess your condition, discuss your symptoms, and create a tailored plan to help you recover and prevent future injuries.

Top 3 FAQs About Hip Injuries

1. What should I do if I experience hip pain while running?

If you experience hip pain while running, it’s important to stop and rest. Continuing to run through the pain can worsen the injury. Apply ice to the affected area, take over-the-counter pain relievers if necessary, and consult a physical therapist for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

2. How can physical therapy help with hip pain?

Physical therapy can help identify the root cause of your hip pain and develop a personalized treatment plan to address it. This may include exercises to improve strength, flexibility, and mechanics, as well as manual therapy techniques to alleviate pain and enhance function. Physical therapy also focuses on preventing future injuries through education and tailored exercise programs.

3. Can I continue running with hip pain?

It’s not advisable to continue running with hip pain, as this can exacerbate the injury and prolong recovery. Focus on low-impact activities and follow a treatment plan developed by a physical therapist to address the underlying cause of your pain. Once your hip has healed and you have addressed any contributing factors, you can gradually return to running.

Don’t let hip pain disrupt your active lifestyle. Reach out to Rehab 2 Perform today and take the first step toward a pain-free running experience.

Schedule a Free Injury Consult HERE

Fitness Focused Physical Therapy

Running injuries holding you back? Rehab 2 Perform specializes in preventing risk to re-injury and empowering you with the tools to stay active. We serve the AnnapolisBethesda,  Columbia,   Frederick,   Gambrills,   Germantown , Mt. Airy, and Owings Mills areas in Maryland, and now in Leesburg, and the Tysons Corner Business District in Virginia. Contact us today at 1(301) 798- 4838 or schedule an appointment by visiting us here today. 

We accept all major insurances, including Tricare, VA Community Care, and the Johns Hopkins Healthcare Network!

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