Written By: Bethaney Wallace
Whether a long-term runner or one who jogs whenever the mood may strike, it’s an activity that can add strain and pain to your joints. Knees can offer regular aches, hips reflect increasing mileage, and even elbows can become inflamed in the right (or rather wrong) types of running conditions. But most commonly, these types of exercise-induced stressors are triggered within the hips, which takes the brunt of weight movement.
Unfortunately, hip pain is a condition that can increase with age or colder weather. Because cartilage breaks down over time, older runners often feel worsened effects than their younger counterparts – while cold conditions cause inflammation.
From age-induced triggers to injuries, here are some of the most common running-related hip injuries. (And what to do about them.)
When hips are off-kilter, the body distributes weight unevenly, and even rotates hips in an unnatural manner. Though this condition takes time to manifest into pain or a full-blown injury, it can cause serious damage for long-term runners. Because the pelvis regulates hip movement (and range of motion for the whole body), it’s extremely important that it be aligned correctly.
When putting too much pressure on the hamstring, hips feel a direct affect – usually in tightness or swelling. Other closely located muscles can offer similar results.
Perhaps most obviously, a previous injury will act as an ongoing source of pain, despite the activity. From torn muscles or ligaments, to hyperextensions, hip injuries of all levels create an added layer of exercise aches.
An ongoing ailment, IT Band Syndrome is caused for two reasons – weakened hips, or hosting one leg that’s longer than the other. This syndrome can lead to heavier impacts on the taller hip, especially when running on hard surfaces.
Runners – or pedestrians of any kind – head toward the left side of the road as a rule of safety. When slants are evident, however, this can mean more pressure on the right hip, while the left leg reaches further to hit the ground.
Too much leaning or slouching can greatly affect the hips. Those who fail to stand up (or run) straight can cause ongoing damage to various joints, including the hips, knees, and the back.
Though there are a number of different tactics to be taken on, depending on the cause of one’s hip pains, a few steps are largely universal. By stretching, performing strengthening exercises, or getting help from your doctor, runners of all experience levels can reduce hip pain each time they reach for their jogging shoes. Visiting chiropractors or physical therapists can also ensure the body is properly aligned, which eliminates posture-related injuries from the get-go.
Look toward stretches that directly work the hip. Prop up legs on a chair or bench and lean forward, bend over for toe touches, or hold the foot in various positions while balancing on one leg. These movements work the hip flexor internally, and allow runners to strengthen the weakest of areas.
Talk to your doctor to find the most effective hip exercises, or perform a quick Google search as to which movements best fight individual pains. It’s also a good idea to use a range of styles to work the entire joint in an even fashion. [Active]
Whether visiting a doctor or looking toward strengthening options, there are plenty of alternative methods to reduce hip pain. Test out the above to find the best result, or stack treatment styles for a well-rounded approach to pain management.
The next time running gives your hips a hard time, look to these tips – as well as your doctor’s advice – for an effective, lasting cure