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Why Does My Hip Hurt When I Run?

A common question when exercising is "why does my hip hurt when I run".  Exercising is exhausting and strenuous enough, and dealing with hip pain is the last thing you want to be worried about.  Sharp pain with every step can take away from your mental focus and overall enjoyment of the run and leave you thinking why does my hip hurt when I run. 


Why Does My Hip Hurt When I Run - Muscle Guide

There are many different explanations for this frustrating problem.  At the top of the list is muscle strain and weakness in the TFL muscle (IT band).  The other big culprits in hip pain while running are the primary hip muscles including the Gluteus Minimus, Gluteus Maximus, and Gluteus Medius muscles.  Similar to the TFL muscle (IT band) when left unattended, the Gluteus Medius becomes tight and weak, resulting in pain.  In this article, I will be giving you tips and exercises to ease the pain and get you back running on the open road.

Why Does My Hip Hurt When I Run - Gluteus Minimus And Maximus:

The gluteus minimus and gluteus maximus muscles are two of the primary muscles in the buttocks region that can be involved in hip pain while running.

The gluteus minimus is a small, triangular muscle located deep within the buttocks region, just below the gluteus medius. It helps to stabilize the pelvis and hip joint and is involved in movements such as hip abduction (moving the leg away from the midline of the body) and external rotation (turning the leg outward).

Why does my hip hurt when I run

Gluteus Minimus Pain Pattern

The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the buttocks region and is responsible for extending the hip joint, as well as helping to rotate the leg inward and stabilize the pelvis. It is also involved in helping to propel the body forward during running.

why does my hip hurt when I run  

Gluteus Maximus Pain Pattern

If either of these muscles is weak or not functioning properly, it can cause hip pain while running. For example, if the gluteus minimus is weak, it may not provide adequate support to the pelvis and hip joint, leading to pain or discomfort while running. Similarly, if the gluteus maximus is weak, it may not be able to effectively extend the hip joint, leading to pain or discomfort.

Treatment for hip pain while running often involves strengthening the gluteus minimus and gluteus maximus muscles, as well as addressing any underlying issues that may be causing the pain. This may involve stretches and exercises to improve flexibility and strength in these muscles


Why Does My Hip Hurt When I Run - Muscle Anatomy:

The TFL (IT band) muscle is the outermost hip flexor muscle located on the outside of the hip [1].  The TFL muscle is responsible for hip flexion and knee stabilization, when the leg is fully extended.  This is one of the first muscles to tend to when asking yourself "why does my hip hurt when I run".  When this muscle is overused and not treated properly, the repercussions include pain and tightness in the hip, knee, and thigh areas.  TFL pain patterns and soreness can make running feel almost unbearable.  

Why does my hip hurt when I run

TFL Muscle

The Gluteus Medius is located in the upper region of the buttock.  The Gluteus Medius is in primary control of external hip movement and internal rotation of the thigh.  This muscle also plays a big role in pelvis stabilization when walking/running.  Understanding the muscle anatomy behind, "why does my hip hurt when I run", is understanding the importance of a strong and flexible Gluteus Medius muscle.

Why does my hip hurt when I run

Gluteus Medius Muscle


Why Does My Hip Hurt When I Run? - TFL (IT Band) Muscle Therapy for Pain Relief:

Having a tight TFL muscle will have you asking yourself "why does my hip hurt when I run".  Loosening up the tight muscle fibers in the TFL muscle through deep tissue massage will potentially relieve some of the pain.  Pinpointing the trigger points in the TFL muscle is your best bet in relieving your tension and stiffness.  

There is no tool better for this step than the QL Claw.  This device will find those trigger points and loosen the muscle better than your typical tennis ball or muscle roller would.  The QL Claw is designed specifically for breaking up tissue and finding those hard to reach trigger points.  An awesome video I made using this tool on the TFL muscle can be found below.


Why Does My Hip Hurt When I Run? - Gluteus Medius Muscle Release for Hip Pain Relief:

Inspecting your Gluteus Medius is a great place to start when asking yourself "why does my hip hurt when I run".  Hip pain when running is often caused by tightness in the Gluteus Medius, resulting in built up pressure and pain with every step.  Using a combination of releasing the muscle tension through deep tissue massage with isolated stretching and strengthening of the muscle is a great way to potentially ease hip pain and gain back mobility in the muscle.  A great strengthening exercise for runners is the fire hydrant exercise.

Learn how to successfully release muscle tension using the QL Claw tool in a tutorial video I made specifically for the Gluteus Medius Muscle - Gluteus Medius Massage.  After massaging, engaging in Gluteus Medius stretching will spread out the muscle fibers even more, giving you maximum flexibility and relief.  A couple great Gluteus Medius stretches can be found below in my video on How to Gluteus Medius Stretch For Releasing Pressure.





[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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