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Hips in general

The hip joint itself is located centrally in the body and has a very stable structure.  This is a ball joint, where the thighbone is ending in a ball shape, located well inside a deep bone socket. There are many strong ligaments which tie the joint closely together, and the longer the leg is stretched backwards, the more stable the joint becomes.  We talk about running injuries in the hips, but running injuries in the hip joint itself are rare. Injuries in the surrounding muscles are more common.

Pain at the outside of the hip

The whole hip section depends on well working and stabilising muscle work on the lateral side – the outside – of the hips. This is in particular valid for the m. gluteus medius muscle, which ensure taht the hip does not fall sideways in the landing and standing phases during walking and running. This muscle is very strong. Despite it’s small size, this muscle takes care of most of the stabilising work for the hips. Although it’s strong, overload of this muscle is a quite common injury among runners, in particular for women.  This is often a result of wrong technique such as “sitting” in the landing phase of running. If the hip is unstable and has reduced endruance strength, the risk of irritation increases in the bursa on the outside of the hip, due to increased friction.

Running related pain in the front of the hip

The hip flexors may be overloaded. The muscle, m. iliopsoas, is important for the forward movement of the leg during running. This muscle is often overloaded for runners who are starting up with interval training, and for runners who start running much faster than they are used to.  The hip flexors may also be overloaded when running on slippery ground, for example when running at snow during wintertime. When slippery, it is difficult to kick for forward movement without slipping somewhat backwards. To compensate for this, the leg is often kicked forward too early. Consequently, the hip flexors will be activated too early and in a way take over as the kicking mechanism. This may lead to ovverload for the muscles.

Running related pain at the backside of the hip

Pain in the sit bone (tuber Ischiadicus) is rather common, in particular for runners who have been running quite much with a large amount of training over several years. This is a condition that may become chronical and can be difficult to treat and to get rid of. Several of the muscles on the backside of the of the thigh is fastened in the sit bone, and may be overloaded. The overload is more frequent if there is a lowered muscular function in combination with insufficient stability around the hip, pelvis and lumbar.

Preventive exercises towards hip injuries

If you have pain in the front of the hip and need some preventive exercises for this, I recommend an easy leg swinging exercise and the plank with sliding pads, see videos below:


A good preventive exercise towards pain in the backside of the hip is the catslide back, see video below:

Good preventive exercises towards pain at the outside of the hip / thigh, are the sideways plank with movement and the foam roll exercise, see videos below:


Hip anatomy

See detailed descriptions of the anatomy of the hip on these pages from TeachMeAnatomy.info:

3D pictures (at teachmeanatomy.info):

See more about running injuries, preventive exercises and videos here:

Author: Hege Erichsen

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