Running and Hip Flexor pain are more common than you might think. It’s one of the leading injuries for runners and can seriously impact the enjoyment and success you have. This article will walk you through identifying and correcting any issues leading to the pain.
Identifying the Cause of Pain
The solution to your problem will depend on the exact cause of your pain. First you need to determine if it’s a serious injury like a tear or tendonitis or just some soreness.
In most cases this should be pretty obvious. If the pain goes away right away after running, or soon after, it’s likely not an injury issue. On the other hand, if it’s something that bothers you all the time, it could be a sign of a bigger issue and you should get it checked out by your physician.
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that your pain is only occuring when you are actually running.
Fixing Your Hip Flexor Pain While Running
There are two common causes of the pain, technique and tightness.
Let’s address the simplest one first. If you sit for the majority of the day and rarely stretch, you likely have tight Hip Flexors. When you run, your leg (and therefore Hip Flexors) must extend under and behind your Hips, which stretches your Hip Flexors.
Imagine your Hip Flexors being a piece of an elastic band that attaches from your pelvis to your leg. When you extend that band, it’s able to stretch without a problem until it reaches its limit of elasticity. If that elastic band is shorter however, it reaches its limit much faster, and when you try to go the same length as the original band, it gets uncomfortably tight. The same thing happens with tight Hip Flexors.
The obvious solution to your Hip pain from running is to improve the flexibility of your Hip Flexors. To do this you need to start a stretching routine at least once per day, ideally two or three times. You can increase the effectiveness of your stretching by warming up your muscles before hand. You don’t necessarily need to run to do this, you can apply heat directly if needed.
The second thing you need to do is prevent them from becoming tight again. Stretching is simply a band aid that corrects your issues on a short-term basis, but if you want to be able to run pain-free, you need to adjust your daily habits. If you have to sit all day for work, try to stretch often during the day and take short breaks to walk around a bit. Secondly, if you are able to get a standing desk, you will not only fix your tight Hips but also experience many more benefits.
The overwhelmingly most common cause of Hip pain while running is poor or degraded technique. The typical experience is being able to start off your run fine for a while, but as soon as you start to tire, the Hip Flexor pain returns. If this sounds like you, read on.
When you begin running, you’re full of energy and well rested. This allows you to keep your cadence high and pick your feet up at the exact time they are under your Hips, which is perfect.
The problems begin once you get tired, because all of a sudden it becomes a chore to keep your legs moving. Picking your foot off the ground even a split second later means that it’s behind your center of gravity, which places a significant amount of extra stress and tension on your Hip Flexors, often causing pain. To make it even worse, your posture often gets worse as well and you will begin to lean forward.
Fixing this is simple, but at the same time not easy. You need to become aware of the issue while you are running and fix bad habits that come into play when you get tired.
When you notice the pain creeping into your next run, slow down and pay careful attention to your cadence. It’s better to run slower with good technique than faster with sloppy technique that causes you pain. Getting used to always running with a fast turnover will allow you to maintain speed for longer each time. When you find that you can no longer maintain a good cadence, end your run or take a break and repeat.
The second thing you can do is to begin running drills. Watch this video for an explanation of three drills that will help you improve your technique.
Don’t expect things to clear up immediately, although you should experience some quick improvements if you spend time on the things outlined above. In the event that you absolutely have to do some intense running in the near future, I recommend trying to use KT tape on your tight Hip Flexor muscles to minimize any damage.
You should never have Hip Flexor pain running, so address this issue once and for all to get back to enjoying success.