How To Treat Hip Pain From Running

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Hip pain in runners can be caused by various conditions, ranging from arthritis and tendonitis to muscle overuse and ligament tears. 
  • For short-term relief, you can rest and ice the affected area, try low-impact flexibility exercises, or take over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen. 
  • If running still causes hip pain after trying the short-term methods above, you may need a long-term solution, such as physical therapy, surgery, or alternative therapies like PEMF. 

Treating Hip Pain from Running

As many know, running or jogging offers plenty of health benefits, such as strengthening your cardiovascular system. However, running also poses risks to your health, increasing your chances for excruciating conditions like chronic hip pain. In fact, a study from 2018 reported that 47% of marathoners experienced hip or knee pain.

Learning how to treat hip pain from running is crucial to help you prevent further injury, including irreversible joint degeneration. Educate yourself on what causes hip pain and how to mitigate it so you can enjoy pain-free runs!

What Causes Hip Pain When Running?

Hip pain can result from many different issues throughout the human body. Understanding the potential causes of your hip pain will help you decide the best option for treatment. For runners, the following are the most common reasons for hip pain.

Muscle Strains

Muscle strains are the result of overstretching or tearing a muscle or tendon. Common muscle strains that affect the hip are:

  • Strained hamstrings – A hamstring strain results in pain and tenderness in the back of the thigh and is often accompanied by swelling or bruising.
  • Pulled groins – A pulled groin leads to pain and tenderness in the groin, especially when the legs are squeezed together, and is often accompanied by swelling or bruising.

Muscle Tendon Bursitis

Muscle tendon bursitis is the inflammation of the thin, fluid-filled sacs in between bones and nearby soft tissue. Trochanteric bursitis is the most common type that affects the hip. This condition develops from repetitive motions in the hip and results in the inflammation of the bursa, the soft tissue that covers the joint.

Bone Injury

A bone injury results from damage to or around the osseous matter of the body.

Common bone injuries that affect the hip are:

    • Hip pointer – A hip pointer injury is sparked by trauma to the iliac crest, the ridge of bone on the outside of the upper hip and is accompanied by pain and tenderness above the frontmost part of the hip bone.
  • Bone fracture – A fracture is caused by direct trauma, overuse, or a disease-fueled weakening of the bone leading to a partial or complete break in the bone. It often looks visibly misshapen, out-of-place, swollen, or bruised.


Osteoarthritis is a condition where joint degeneration leads to changes in the underlying bone structure. The main form of osteoarthritis in the pelvic region is arthritis in the hip, which is caused by aging and long-term wear and tear of the joint. This condition is often accompanied by stiffness and audible clicking during movement.

Cartilage Tears

Cartilage tears are the ripping of the smooth tissue that shields and cushions the body’s joints. The main type of cartilage tear in the hip region is a labral tear, which develops from overuse, trauma, or a misalignment of the hip bone and usually results in a limited range of motion and pain when walking.

IT Band Syndrome

IT band syndrome is caused by tightness and inflammation of the iliotibial band, the fibrous tissue that stretches from the knee to the outer hip.

Common forms of IT band syndrome are:

  • Acute IT band syndrome – This condition occurs suddenly, often by a single traumatic event, and it is usually accompanied by swelling and the inability to bear weight on the injured side.
  • Chronic IT band syndrome – Develops slowly over time and, often through repetitive motions., and the pain gradually builds and worsens with continued activity.
  • Retro IT band syndrome – This condition occurs through the overuse of hip flexors and knee extensors, and pain manifests in the back of the knee.
  • Anterior IT band syndrome –  This syndrome develops through the overuse of the hip flexors, quadriceps, and knee extensors,  while pain manifests at the front of the knee.

What is the Difference Between Muscle, Joint, and Tendon-Related Hip Pain?

Figuring out the specific origin of your hip pain is the first step to picking out the most effective treatment. Depending on its cause, the answer for how to treat hip pain from running can vary from rest and cold compresses to physical therapy, medication, and surgery.

Consider the following to differentiate between the various origins:

  • Muscle-related hip pain comes from the straining or damaging of the muscles near the hip and usually manifests as a dull, achy sensation.
  • Tendon-related hip pain results from inflammation or strain of tendons, which connects muscles to bones, often delivering localized pain around the hip.
  • Joint-related hip pain is sparked by joint-specific conditions, including arthritis or labral tears, and it usually results in deep, achy pain and stiffness.

Return to the Activities You Love

Our board-certified surgeons at The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale use the latest methods in hip surgery to provide you with the best possible outcome.

Hip Pain Prevention Strategies

Being proactive and intentional with your workout plan is a great way to minimize your chances of hip pain, especially if you run frequently. Taking preventative measures to avoid injury in the first place is always the best treatment plan. 

Be sure to:

  1. Perform low-impact warm-up and cool-down routines that involve stretching.
  2. Adopt a proper running form with an upright posture, engaged core, and a front-facing head.
  3. Wear up-to-date, cushioned running shoes that fit your feet
  4. Add strengthening and flexibility exercises to your routine that are targeted at your hip muscles

Options For Short-Term Relief

As you search for long-term solutions on how to treat hip pain from running, you can offer yourself short-term relief through the following methods.

  • Add a cold compress to the affected area
    • Wrap ice or a cold pack in a thin cloth and place it on your hip for 10 to 20 minutes at a time
    • After 3 days of solely using ice, you can use heat on your hip
  • Rest as much as possible
    • Minimize movement in your lower half
    • Elevate swollen areas above your heart
  • Gently stretch your hip muscles
    • Butterfly stretch
    • Kneeling hip adductor stretch
    • Half kneel hip flexor stretch
    • Hip fall-out stretch
  • Take over-the-counter pain-relieving medication
    • Acetaminophen
    • Ibuprofen

Options For Long-Term Relief

If your hip pain persists after trying the short-term solutions above, it may be chronic. Consult a medical professional to determine which of the following options is best for your situation. The following options are the most common long-term solutions to hip pain

Physical therapy

Physical therapy incorporates exercises, massages, and physical stimuli-based treatments, such as temperature control, electrical currents, or ultrasound usage. A physical therapy regimen can help provide long-term relief by strengthening the muscles around an injured joint for support while also improving flexibility and mobility.

Alternative therapies

Alternative therapies, The following are potential options for alternative therapies.

  • Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) Therapy PEMF therapy uses low-frequency electromagnetic pulses to stimulate cells, decrease inflammation, and facilitate healing. Potential benefits of PEMF therapy are pain relief, smoother recoveries, and improved sleep.
  • ARPwave – ARPwave involves sending electrical waves directly into a targeted area, stimulating the muscles to contract and release in a controlled pattern. Potential benefits of using ARPwave are re-educating muscles, building strength, increasing range of motion, and speeding up recovery times.

Hip surgery

Hip surgery is used as a last-resort option for treating hip pain if other less invasive interventions have not worked. The two most common examples of hip surgeries are:

  • Total Hip Revision Surgery Total hip revision surgery is when a medical professional replaces some or all of a previously implanted artificial hip joint to fix implant failure, combat wear, or eliminate infection. Potential benefits include restoring nearby mobility, alleviating pain, and augmenting the function of the hip joint.
  • Anterior Total Hip Replacement Surgery Anterior total hip replacement surgery is when a medical professional accesses the hip joint from the front using a muscle-spreading technique. Potential benefits include a quicker recovery, less pain, and greater stability than other traditional approaches.

Return to the Activities You Love

Our board-certified surgeons at The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale use the latest methods in hip surgery to provide you with the best possible outcome.

When Is Hip Surgery Necessary?

If you attempt short-term, holistic approaches to hip pain and find no relief, you may be a strong candidate for hip replacement surgery (or revision surgery if you already have an artificial hip). Consult a qualified medical provider to know with certainty.

Luckily, strong candidates for hip replacement surgery often experience substantial pain relief after recovering from their surgery, increasing their chances of running without discomfort.

Get Started On Your Path To Recovery

Hip pain from running can be the effect of many different health complications like IT band syndrome or a bone injury. Quick, temporary relief can occasionally be achieved through resting, applying ice, gently stretching, or taking over-the-counter pain relievers. If running still causes pain, long-term solutions like physical therapy, surgery, or alternative treatments like PEMF might be necessary.

The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale knows exactly how to treat hip pain from running. With cutting-edge robotic technology, we specialize in hip replacement and revision surgeries that require minimal invasion. Plus, we offer a selection of other alternative therapies, such as PEMF and ARPwave treatments. 

Schedule a consultation with us today to discover a personalized treatment plan for your hip problems so you can get back to pain-free running!