An overview of hip injuries in running

Sports Med. 2005;35(11):991-1014. doi: 10.2165/00007256-200535110-00005.


Running has steadily gained in worldwide popularity and is the primary exercise modality for many individuals of all ages. Its low cost, versatility, convenience and related health benefits appeal to men and women of broad cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds. With more children and adults participating in recreational and competitive running, the incidence of injuries has steadily increased. Most running-related injuries affecting the lower extremities are due to preventable training errors, and some may necessitate medical evaluation or a significant reduction in training. Hip injuries in runners are due to interactions of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that adversely affect the complex regional anatomy. Acute or chronic hip pain presents a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge because the vague, nonspecific symptoms and signs may originate from local, regional or distant foci. Muscle strains and tendonitis are the most common aetiologies of hip pain and typically result from sudden acceleration/deceleration manoeuvres, direction changes or eccentric contractions. Apophysitis and avulsion fractures may affect younger runners and produce localised pain at muscle attachment sites. Iliotibial band syndrome is a common cause of lateral hip and knee symptoms characterised by sharp or burning pain that is exacerbated by activity. Bursitis, due to repetitive activity or acute trauma, may affect the trochanteric, ischial or iliopectineal bursae. Hip osteoarthritis may also produce persistent pain that worsens with running. Stress fractures are potentially serious conditions that affect women more frequently than men. Snapping hip syndrome is a benign condition that results from tight connective tissues' passing repeatedly over the greater trochanter, anterior hip capsule, lesser trochanter, femoral head or iliopectineal eminence. Acetabular labral tears, sports hernias and nerve entrapment syndromes are also potential causes of persistent hip pain in runners. Treatment of hip pain in running should focus not only on addressing the symptoms but also identifying the underlying conditions that precipitated the injury. Injury prevention and comprehensive rehabilitation are essential, since prior hip injuries increase the risk of subsequent ones. Coaches, trainers and medical personal who care for runners should advocate running regimens, surfaces, shoes, technique and individualised conditioning programmes that minimise the risk of initial or recurrent hip injuries.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bursitis / etiology
  • Hip Injuries / diagnosis
  • Hip Injuries / etiology
  • Hip Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Hip Injuries / therapy
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Running / injuries*
  • Sports Medicine