Treating Hip Bursitis in Runners

2021_07_ Treating Hip Bursitis in Runners _360721-01

Runners who show signs of tenderness and pain on the front or side of the hip may be suffering from hip bursitis. This injury, often caused by muscle imbalances and overuse, can keep many runners from achieving their goals. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take as a runner to treat this sidelining injury.

While conservative care is often used to treat bursitis, recovery can still take time, holding back active individuals who don’t have much time to wait for recovery. Our providers can help you understand your injury and give you the tools need to address problems as they appear.

Why Runners Get Hip Bursitis

When we run, our back and core muscles remain engaged to keep us upright while our hips and legs work together to propel us forward. Running is a high-impact sport, meaning it can put stress and excessive wear and tear on weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. Each step hitting the ground sends shockwaves up through your feet into your legs and hips.

All these movements require strong, functioning joints that can withstand the impact of running. To help keep us mobile, each major joint in the body contains fluid-filled sacs called bursae that act as a cushion to help reduce friction and lubricate the joint.

Within the hips lay two major bursae known as the greater trochanteric bursa and iliopsoas bursa. While these bursae can help protect our joints from wear and tear, they can also become irritated from the movements present in high-impact activities like running. This irritation, if left untreated, can eventually develop into hip bursitis.

Your risk of developing hip bursitis varies depending on many internal and external factors, including running terrain, your level of training, muscle strength, joint health, and overall health.

Overuse Injuries

The most common cause of hip bursitis in runners is overuse. Runners who try to do too much too soon, or who skip warm-ups and cool downs, are more likely to suffer from an overuse injury.

Some runners may be running with tight or weak muscles that can cause muscular imbalances, specifically within the muscles that connect the hip to the low back. Larger muscles that may be overcompensating for weakness in smaller muscles can also put pressure on the hip joint, leading to overuse injuries like bursitis.

Other runners may be struggling with an IT band problem. Friction from a tight IT band rubbing over the joint during hip and knee flexion can also irritate the bursa.

Acute Injuries

Occasionally, cases of hip bursitis may develop after a fall or direct blow to the hip. While a bursitis injury is more likely to be caused by overuse, it’s still important to take steps to avoid a slip or fall while running.  Possible conditions that could lead to a slip or fall include gait issues, improper footwear, poor weather conditions, and difficult or uneven terrain.

Diagnosing and Treating Runners with Hip Bursitis

At Airrosti, we spend significant one-on-one time with each patient to evaluate their symptoms and ensure an accurate diagnosis of the root cause of their pain. When a patient is suffering from hip pain, we perform functional tests to search for any muscle weakness or imbalance, tension, or mobility issues that could be causing their pain.

While an injury like bursitis may go away on its own with conservative care, addressing the root dysfunction – whether it’s poor hip mobility or weakened lower back muscles – is crucial to staying pain free and avoiding a future injury.

After evaluating the root cause of the injury, we perform hands-on manual therapy to address any muscle tightness in the hip. Then we prescribe a customized active rehab exercise program to help strengthen the core and hip muscles and improve hip mobility.

Exercises and Tips to Address Hip Pain

If you’re a runner struggling with hip pain, consider alternating your training plan with other low-impact activities like water aerobics, swimming, or biking. Cross-training can help you stay active while avoiding overuse injuries by giving your joints more time to recover from the heavy impact of running.

You can also balance out your running routine with weekly strength-training exercises. Building muscle strength will help reduce your risk of injury by improving muscle activation and correcting muscle imbalances.

In the video below, Airrosti’s Tom Danisiewicz, DC, demonstrates a few exercises you can use to help strengthen your hips and relieve hip pain associated with bursitis. The wall push and lateral hip raise movements will help improve hip strength and stability while the hip flexor and figure four stretch can help release muscle tension on both the front and side of the hip.

Running Pain Free with Airrosti

Don’t let running-related injuries like bursitis trip you up. At Airrosti, we aim to get patients out of pain fast so they can quickly return to the activities they love most.

Call us today at (800) 404-6050 to learn more about treatment at Airrosti or click the button below to schedule your appointment. We offer both in-office and virtual appointments to best suit your needs.

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