There are more than 600 skeletal muscles in the human body. Because your glutes (buttocks) and hip muscles are skeletal muscles that are heavily engaged while running, you could experience soreness in these areas for a number of reasons. Causes for hip and glute soreness during and after running include low potassium levels, strains, a buildup of lactic acid, and delayed onset soreness.
Some cases of muscle pain could be caused by low levels of potassium in your bloodstream. Potassium helps to manage various activities in the body, including regulation of the electric charges responsible for making muscles function properly. When you sweat -- as when running -- the level of potassium in your blood falls. If not replenished, it could reach such a low level as to create an imbalance, accompanied by symptoms such as muscle pain. Because potassium is present in some foods and drinks, an imbalance can be treated at home. In addition to electrolyte-enriched sports drinks, potassium exists in relatively high amounts in potatoes with the skin on and in bananas.
Muscle strains are sometimes called pulls or tears. In cases of mild to moderate strains, pain may also be coupled with muscle weakness, spasms and swelling. Severe cases may result in incapacitation because -- unlike with moderate overstretching -- the muscle is completely torn.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons advises that in all cases except mild strains you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. For mild strains, in-home treatment that includes rest, ice, compression and elevation should be sufficient.
Your muscles primarily use oxygen as fuel for movement. Depending on the intensity of your exercise, your muscle tissues may need more oxygen fuel than is readily available. As “Scientific American” reports, when this happens, your body begins to convert secondary substances, such as carbohydrates, into fuel. A byproduct of this process is the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles, causing painful burning sensations. However, lactic acid buildup is temporary, and usually stops within an hour after you stop or decrease the intensity of your exercise. Since your body automatically eliminates the acid buildup, no further treatment is needed and you should experience no soreness.
Delayed Onset Soreness
If you don’t experience muscle pain until about 24 hours after running, you may have delayed onset muscle soreness. As the American College of Sports Medicine reports, DOMS is caused by microscopic tears in your muscle tissues. It is a temporary condition that usually lasts for about three to five days.
At-home treatments, such as the use of massages, ice packs and over-the-counter pain medicines, are usually sufficient, according to the ACSM. Noting that DOMS isn’t completely preventable, the ACSM says you may reduce the intensity of muscle soreness by pacing yourself during running, which allows your muscles to progressively adapt.
- NIH MedlinePlus: Muscle Pain
- NIH MedlinePlus: Electrolyte
- Oregon State University - Linus Pauling Institute: Micronutrient Information Center - Potassium
- Johns Hopkins: Muscle Strains
- Scientific American: Why Does Lactic Acid Build Up in Muscles? And Why Does It Cause Soreness?
- American College of Sports Medicine: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness