Running is a fantastic way to stay in shape and provides numerous health benefits, however it's not without its risks. Jogging subjects your leg to high levels of impact with each stride you take. In particular, the hip joint must withstand forces of more than five times your body weight each time you take a step forward. In some cases, this can lead to bone pain.
Paying attention to the characteristics of your pain can help you determine the potential causes.
One of the most common causes of hip bone pain in runners is osteoarthritis in the joint. While recreational running may not increase the risks of developing arthritis, the forces associated with this type of exercise can exacerbate an already arthritic hip.
Osteoarthritis pain is usually achy in nature and occurs deep within your hip joint. The pain is characteristically worst in the morning and after a long day of activity. While running may aggravate your pain, your symptoms may also temporarily improve as you exercise for longer periods of time and the joint gets warmed up. Strengthening the muscles in your core and hips can help diminish the pressure that running places on your joints and improve your symptoms.
Another frequent reason for bone pain in runners is bursitis. Bursae are small, fluid filled sacs that act to decrease friction between a muscle and a bone. The repetitive movements associated with running can cause this friction to increase and lead to inflammation of the bursa, also known as bursitis.
While there are multiple bursae throughout the hip, one of the most commonly affected is the greater trochanteric bursa. People with this issue typically experience pain on the outside of the hip near the bony prominence. This area is usually painful to the touch and made worse with activities like walking or running.
Early on, bursitis is usually improved by resting the injured hip and addressing any muscular weakness or tightness that may be contributing to the problem. In some cases, cortisone injections may also be helpful at alleviating the pain and inflammation.
Stress fractures are another cause of bone pain in runners. This type of fracture typically occurs as a result of a sudden change or increase in running volume or intensity. While 1 percent of the general population may experience a stress fracture at some point, the frequency climbs to 20 percent in individuals who run.
The pain associated with this type of injury is typically very deep in the groin or thigh area. While symptoms may be absent or very minimal at rest, the pain usually increases as you start to exercise and worsens as you run for longer distances. In most cases, resting the injured leg will promote the healing of your bone, however it's important to work with your physician to avoid further aggravation of the fractured area.
Impingement in the hip joint can also cause bone pain in runners. In this condition, excessive bone builds up on either the ball or socket portion of the joint and leads to pain with hip movement. The repetitive hip flexion associated with swinging your leg forward while you run can be particularly aggravating.
Typically this pain is located deep in the groin. The pain may start off mild, but can worsen and become sharp as you exercise for longer periods of time. Movements like crossing your leg or bringing your knee upwards towards your chest may also be provocative with hip impingement. In mild cases, strengthening the glute muscles on the side and in back of the joint can help prevent this pain from reoccurring. In more severe instances, however, surgical correction may be necessary.
Warnings and Precautions
If bone pain occurs while you run, it may be beneficial to take several weeks off from exercising to allow your body time to heal. Once symptoms subside, restart your running at 25 to 30 percent of your pre-injury mileage and progress by about 10 percent each week assuming this is not painful.
If the pain persists, it is best to speak to your doctor about your symptoms as this may indicate a more serious condition. Running through your pain is never recommended as this can lengthen your path to recovery.