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Pain Running Up Hills

by
author image Lora Mays
Lora Mays is a RRCA-certified running coach. She has been running for more than 15 years and coaching since 2010. She has published articles on Plum Deluxe and in "Variance Magazine," among other publications. Johnson holds a Bachelor of Arts in professional strategic communications from the University of Minnesota.
Pain Running Up Hills
A man running up a mountain trail. Photo Credit giorgio1978/iStock/Getty Images

When running up hills, your leg muscles -- hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and hips -- work together with your tendons to propel you forward without providing too much momentum to accommodate the incline. If these muscles are not working cooperatively or if you have an imbalance, you can feel pain when running hills. This pain can be debilitating and can result in an injury that sidelines you from running altogether. Learning why you may be feeling pain when running up hills and what you can do to prevent it can help you become a better runner overall.

Causes of Pain

Most injuries are caused by factors that runners can avoid or prevent, according to the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Pain while running up hills can be caused by muscle imbalances or improper form. Achilles tendonitis, for instance, can cause pain in your achilles area when running up hills. This can be caused by overuse, or running too much. In addition, it can be caused by tight or tired calf muscles. Lastly, your footwear can also cause this pain. Because of the varying elements that cause pain, seeking a health professional's opinion is important to augment recovery.

Pain Evaluation and Management

If you do feel pain when you are running uphill, stop running immediately. Most runners will try to keeping running or justify the pain as not severe enough to stop. However, continuing to run while injured can just cause you more pain and take longer for you to recover.

When you feel pain while running uphill, take note of where you are feeling it. In addition, think about it on a scale so you can determine the severity. When you discuss your pain with a health professional, they will be able to provide better assistance if you can describe your pain in detail.

Leg Muscle Strengthening

Having strong muscles will help prevent muscle imbalances and keep pain away when running up hills. For instance, women's hip muscles may be overpowered by their glutes. Rather than feel pain in their hip muscles, they will have issues with their iliotibial band.

In addition to running, make sure you spend time strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, hip and calf muscles. Comprehensive exercises like lunges, squats and kettlebell swings will work several different groups at once. In doing so, you can ensure you do not feel pain when running uphill due to a muscle imbalance. Stronger muscles can also make you a more efficient and faster runner.

Proper Form Techniques

Improper form can be a contributing factor to running pain on hills. Because you are fighting gravity as you climb the hill, your legs will have to take on more work. This causes many people to lean forward in order to make it feel easier. However, this is bad form and can lead to pain. Instead, focus on keeping your form tall with your head held high. In addition, mentally reminding yourself of proper form elements, such as using your hips and keeping your arms moving, can help you keep your form when running up hills.

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