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Hip Pain After Running | The 2 Muscles Causing Your Pain

Hip pain is the worst, especially after doing a healthy thing like running. You are more active and ambitious than 90% of the population, so why do you hurt? Why do you get punished for working hard? Thankfully, the solution to hip pain after running may be easier than you think. This article takes a look at what muscular issues are likely going on and how to find pain relief.

Hip Pain From Running - Muscle Relief with QL Claw

Hip Pain Patterns After Running

Hip pain from running is dominantly caused by two muscles - Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL, aka IT Band) and Gluteus Medius. These muscles work hard to support the body while standing on one leg, and while running you are constantly on one or zero legs. If you don't know what these muscles are, I highly suggest skimming the articles below:



Running is great for strengthening the TFL and Gluteus Medius muscles, but it also can cause a high amount of muscle tension and pain when you push your limits (for a low-impact alternative, read about what muscles does the elliptical work).  This is not necessarily a bad thing - we need to give our bodies challenging stimuli to grow - but hip pain may result and require some rehab via massaging and stretching the TFL and Gluteus Medius muscles.

Hip Pain After Running - Referred Pain Patterns:


 TFL Hip Pain After Running 

Hip pain pattern caused by the TFL muscle [1]

Gluteus Medius Hip Pain After Running

Hip Pain Pattern Caused By The Gluteus Medius Muscle [1]

The TFL muscle tends to cause the hip pain felt in the side/front of the hip, while the Gluteus Medius muscle tends to cause the hip pain felt side/back of the hip. You may have tension in one or both of these muscles.


Hip Pain-Inducing Muscles Anatomy

The hip pain patterns above are caused by two muscles: the Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL or IT Band) and the Gluteus Medius muscles. The TFL muscle tends to refer pain on the side of the hip and thigh, while the Gluteus Medius refers pain on the backside of the hip and can spread to the side.

Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL)The TFL muscle is a hip flexor that runs from the outside of the pelvis down to the knee. The muscle consists of a dense bulb near the upper thigh, and a long ligament - the IT Band - that runs down the side of the leg.

TFL Muscle Running Hip Pain

TFL Muscle

Gluteus Medius Muscle: The Gluteus Medius muscle lies in the back of the hip in the upper buttock region. Glute Medius is crucial in pelvic stabilization, lifting, and standing on one leg. This muscle tends to be very well-developed and/or overworked in runners [1].

Gluteus Medius Hip Pain After Running

Gluteus Medius Muscle


Function Of Hip Muscles in Running

Now that we identified which muscles are likely culprits of your hip pain, I'm going to explain WHY these muscles cause hip pain in runners. The TFL and Gluteus Medius share the function of supporting the body and pelvis while standing on one leg (TFL towards the front, Gluteus Medius towards to back), which is essentially the main body stress of running.

TFL Muscle - Hip Pain After Running

TFL Muscle Location

When you plant on one leg during running, TFL & Gluteus Medius fire. When you are on one leg and push your body forward, Gluteus Medius Fires. When you swing your leg forward in the air, TFL fires. These muscles work all the time during running and are very strong in runners.


Running Hip Pain Relief: Deep Tissue Massage

The best way to relieve tension and pain in the TFL and Gluteus Medius muscles is by deep tissue release. Both muscles are accessible with a lacrosse ball or foam roller (or a trained massage therapist), but I prefer a tool like QL Claw because it doesn't roll around, it has a soothing massage material, and it is versatile enough to use on all my hip, back, and glute muscles. Check out QL Claw's TFL release video tutorial, and make sure you massage the upper bulb portion of the muscle - not the IT Band.

Hip Pain While Running TFL Anatomy 

TFL Muscle Diagram - Where To Massage For Hip Pain

For Gluteus Medius release, I also love QL Claw. QL Claw is truly your one-stop shop for hip, lower back, and glute muscle pain relief. Check out the videos below on how QL Claw can be used to release both hip pain-inducing muscles.

Hip pain after running - ql claw

Gluteus Medius Release Using QL Claw

Check out these links for more on hip pain relief after running!



TFL Muscle

Gluteus Medius Pain


How To Release TFL & Gluteus Medius

TFL Release For Running Hip Pain Relief (Using QL Claw):

Gluteus Medius Release For Running Hip Pain Relief (Using QL Claw):


Preventing Hip Pain After Running

After you thoroughly massage and muscle tension contributing to your hip pain from running, it can be beneficial to stretch and strengthen the hips to promote resilience and avoid strain in the future. These two articles are a great place to start to build bulletproof hips and learn more about hip pain after running:




If you're training for a marathon or are an avid marathoner, also check out:

Why Do People Who Participate in Marathons Tend to Have Smaller Muscles? 



[1] Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.

[2] Davies, Clair, and Amber Davies. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. 3rd ed., New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2013.

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