Running is a high impact activity that places repetitive strain on the hip joint and can result in injury. Hip pain when running can result from wear and tear on the joints, inflammatory conditions such as bursitis, or even fractures.

However, there are ways to treat pain in the hip when running or partaking in physical activity in general. These include maintaining gentle activity levels as the injury heals, applying ice packs, and more.

This article will explain why hip pain may occur when running and which conditions can cause pain in the hip. It will also detail treatment for hip pain and prevention.

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Hip pain when running falls under the category of “sports injuries,” but all sorts of physical activities can result in sports injuries. Musculoskeletal problems are the most common type of sports injury. They affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, and other tissues that stabilize the body and allow it to move, such as the hip joint.

The hip is a ball and socket joint, comprising a ball at the end of the femur, or thigh bone, which sits in its socket within the pelvis.

There are several possible causes of hip pain when running, such as:

  • wear and tear on the joints from daily life
  • inflammation
  • straining the joints with too much exercise

Read about exercises and stretches for hip pain here.

A runner’s hip pain may be due to several different causes.


Tendinitis, or inflammation of a tendon, can lead to hip pain. Tendons are flexible bands of fibrous tissue that connect bones to muscles.

While sudden injuries can cause tendinitis, it is more likely to happen due to repeating the same movement, such as in running.

Read more about tendinitis here.


Bursitis is another common cause of hip pain. It happens when the small fluid-filled sacs that cushion bones become inflamed.

While bursitis can be due to a sudden blow or a fall, it can also happen due to repetitive activities, such as running. For the trochanteric bursae, which sit toward the top of the femur, it can result from weakness of the muscles that overlap the lateral side of the pelvis.

Read more about bursitis here.

Iliotibial (IT) band syndrome

The IT band is a tendon that connects the top of the pelvis to a point just below the knee. If it repeatedly rubs against the bone on the outside of the hip or knee, it can become swollen and irritated, resulting in IT band syndrome.

Over-training and underlying weakness in the hip abductor muscle can increase a person’s risk of this condition. It commonly affects the knee.

Read more about IT band syndrome here.


Arthritis can also cause joint pain, stiffness, and tenderness, including at the hip joint. Running strains certain joints, such as the hip, and causes wear and tear over time.

However, it is also a form of load-bearing exercise, which people need to build new bone tissue. So, if a person runs within safe limits for their individual body, it can help keep the hip joints strong and stable. Running can also help people maintain a moderate weight and minimize pressure on their joints.

Read more about arthritis here.

Labral cartilage tear

The labrum lines the outer rim of the hip socket in the pelvis. Its purpose is to stabilize and cushion the ball on the top of the femur inside the socket.

The repetitive movements involved in running can result in tears to this cartilage, which can cause pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.

Read more about labral tears here.

Hip fracture

A person with a hip fracture may still be able to move around despite their injury. However, they may have pain in the hip area.

Older people may also have weaker bones that are more prone to fracturing, especially if they experience falls. Osteoporosis is an age-related condition that causes the weakening of the bones and more commonly affects females.

Read more about hip fractures here.

Hip pointer

People who play contact sports, such as football or field hockey, can bruise their hips due to a blow or sudden impact. This is known as a hip pointer.

While running itself may not directly cause the condition, it can aggravate a bruised hip and cause pain. The pain from a hip pointer can range from mild to severe.

The type of treatment a person receives for hip pain when running will depend on the root cause and severity of the pain. Some people may need to ease off their training program for a few days. However, others may need medications or even surgery, depending on the injury.

One review from 2016 recommended that doctors begin by using conservative management, especially modified activity and rehabilitation exercises, in people with hip and pelvis injuries. They can then use injection therapies as needed.

A person can also try:

  • keeping moving without placing too much strain on their hips, which may involve reducing their training load
  • placing an ice pack inside a towel on the affected hip for up to 20 minutes every 2–3 hours
  • wearing shock-absorbing, comfortable running shoes with a soft sole
  • maintaining a moderate weight to avoid placing extra strain on the joints
  • doing gentle stretching exercises to ease the hip muscles and tendons
  • avoiding carrying and lifting heavy objects
  • avoiding sitting in low chairs, as this can place extra strain on the hips
  • avoiding taking NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, within 48 hours of a hip injury

While running may make a hip joint injury painful at the time, gentle exercise is a great way to prevent hip pain from flaring or worsening.

Muscles, bones, and joints change as a person ages. Exercise can prevent or even reverse some of these changes, and it is never too late to start. However, it is important to seek guidance from a qualified professional before embarking on a program if a person is new to exercise.

Exercise can:

  • strengthen bones and slow down bone loss
  • increase muscle mass and strength
  • reduce the risk of falls in older people through balance and coordination training
  • delay the progression of osteoporosis by slowing the reduction of bone mineral density

Visit our orthopedic hub to learn more about bone and joint health.

The repetitive motion of running can strain the hip joint. A ball and socket joint is strong and resilient when healthy but can become painful when injured. Possible causes of hip pain when running include bursitis, arthritis, fractures, and bruising, among other factors.

However, a person can help themselves by seeking advice from a qualified professional, staying active, and maintaining a moderate weight.