Are you having any issues within your hips while running? Hip alignment issues are one of the major causes of hip pain during and after running. Many runners who do not routinely manage issues with their hips as they arise and this can result in injuries that prevent them from running for weeks, even up to months. Given the role of the pelvis as a fulcrum in each of the three planes of motion of the body (frontal, sagittal, transverse), there are numerous potential drivers of alignment issues, as problems tend to increase pain into the hips.
The symptoms of pelvic misalignment can take quite some time to show up and with the amount of muscle attachments at the hip they can be quite broad in nature. Once the injury can be diagnosed by a professional the treatment and management of the injury is a critical part of the recovery to healthy and mobile hips. The possible causes of pain to the hip can be but not limited to hip injuries or soreness, hamstring strains, piriformis syndrome, IT Band Syndrome, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee). With so many types of injuries to the hip there are several potential causes of pelvic misalignment issues and there are often several muscles involved in each specific case. Some of the running-related drivers include: injury history, strength imbalances (or asymmetries) and/or type of running surfaces (angled surface/streets). There are also non-running contributors to hip misalignment: poor posture and/or habits of imbalance (ie: carrying bags on one shoulder or use our phones with the same ear and hold it in place with our shoulder).
Treating Hip Misalignments
Once an alignment issue is identified, the goal is to ease the muscle tightness and imbalances that are causing the problem. This is most effectively done through the initial efforts of a professional such as a sports chiropractor, massage therapist or physical therapist. Massage or Active Release Techniques can help loosen up the muscles most often responsible for the misalignment: the hip adductors, iliopsoas and the quadratus lumborum. Additionally, these professionals can form other manipulations to help “pop” the hip back into place, though a quick fix might only alleviate the pain for short period.
General strength and mobility work focused on the hips can help address muscular imbalances that create hip alignment issues. And any of the wide range of stretching techniques, ranging from passive to dynamic approaches, can also help loosen up the tight muscles driving the misalignment.
Preventing Hip Alignment Issues
Prevention of hip alignment issues or recurrences involves avoiding some of the behaviors mentioned above and through such steps as: strength training, regular massage, run on flat surfaces, maintain good posture, be conscious of your regular patterns. Given that hip misalignment is so easy to develop and therefore pretty common, all runners would must pay attention to their habits that may contribute to this issue. Changing daily habits that can lead to faulty posture and becoming aware of what may trigger any hip issue and try to avoid those issues is key to increasing the health and mobility in your hips.
The treatment and prevention of hip injuries is a broad topic and there are many avenues to start and become engaged into a hip strengthening and mobility program. In my next article there will an in depth and detailed program on how to start and progress for hip strengthening and mobility. If you would like more information about this topic please remain part of this blog to learn about those programs.
Derrick Campbell, USTF-L1