Hip injuries can be tricky: the symptoms of different injuries can be very similar. Here are the hip issues that strike runners most.
YOU FEEL: A pain on the front of your hip that travels to your groin, back, or leg
IT MAY BE: A stress fracture. A fracture occurs when the bone can’t handle the forces placed on it or if it’s weak from lack of calcium or poor bone density.
HOW TO FIX IT: Three months of rest and physical therapy. Pool running and swimming are the best cross-training options.
YOU FEEL: A stab near your leg crease while running and it hurts if you lie down and pull your knee to your chest
IT MAY BE: a hip flexor strain. The hip flexors lift your thigh when you run. A tear in the muscle (strain) or an inflamed tendon (tendinitis) is often from an abrupt increase in mileage or speedwork.
HOW TO FIX IT: At the first sign of pain, rest and ice for a week. When symptoms are gone, stretch the hip flexors (see “Knee Lean“), and gradually rebuild your mileage.
YOU FEEL: An ache in the front of your hip or near your groin. It worsens postrun.
IT MAY BE: femoral acetabular impingement (FAI). FAI occurs when the ball of the hip joint doesn’t fit into the socket; the grinding tears the cartilage lining the socket.
HOW TO FIX IT: FAI usually requires eight weeks of physical therapy; sometimes surgery is necessary.
YOU FEEL: An achy, burning sensation on the side of your hip during or after a run
IT MAY BE: Bursitis. This occurs when the liquid-filled sac (bursa) that separates your hip bone from the iliotibial band is inflamed. It’s confused with ITB syndrome, but ITB’s main symptom is knee pain.
YOU FEEL: A sharp pain in your buttocks during a run and it lingers afterward
IT MAY BE: piriformis syndrome. When the piriformis – a muscle deep in the hip – is tight, it rubs against the sciatic nerve. The result is pain deep in the buttocks, or radiating pain down the leg or back.
HOW TO FIX IT: Rest for two weeks, and ice the area. After the first week, get deep-tissue massage to help relieve tightness, or do self-massage by sitting on a tennis ball. When the pain lessens, stretch the muscle regularly (see “Yoga Pigeon“). If this doesn’t help, a strain may have occurred, which will require more rest and physical therapy.