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Why does my hip hurt when I exercise?

When the body is in a good state of health any activity should be pain free. We often exercise to help us feel fitter and healthier, not cause us aches and pains, so why does my hip hurt when I exercise? There is no 'one size fits all' answer but various explanations as to what structures could be causing you pain and why.

Overuse injury/ repetitive strain

If you're overloading or overtraining a muscle group it can cause tightness and imbalance, which in turn causes a change in mechanical loading on the hip joint. This includes activities outside of exercise, for example prolonged periods of sitting also causes relative tightening of the hip flexors.

Additionally, sprains and strains can cause localised inflammation and even with adequate rest from loading and gradual return to activity the functional pattern that leads up to the initial injury onset may not be resolved causing reaggravation on subsequent loading.


Naturally we all have bony and muscular asymmetries which can predispose your likelihood to hip joint pain. From structural and functional longer legs, to different femoral head shapes and depths of hip joint sockets. If you're unsure whether this is the case seek expert advice as strength and conditioning work can be done around the asymmetries we have to make the body stronger and more stable in movement to prevent aches and pains reoccurring.

Poor recovery

More common in gym goers and amateur athletes poor recovery could be in the list of reasons why hip pain is being experienced. We often forget to give ourselves enough rest between workouts or scheduling our training programmes to avoid overtraining of similar muscles groups, followed by poor post exercise recovery. The neglect of skipping the warm down and post exercise stretch to return muscles to resting muscle length poorly prepares the body for the next activity and can increase the chances of pain.

FAI (femoro-acetabular impingement)

This is a common hip condition, seen in active individuals often under 45. Causing hip pain and the nature of the pain can lead to exercise avoidance. Due to the changes that occur at the hip joint, further investigation is often needed in order for the best treatment and management plan to be developed for the individual.

Should you stop exercise if my hip hurts?

The answer to this is simple, if pain is short term following exercise and low level pain this is typically ok as it is an indicator of micro-trauma and localised inflammation that is the natural process of muscle growth and development. If pain is more persistent following exercise, or is lasting past the usual delayed onset muscle soreness timeframe or impacting your quality of life then seek help.

To find out how we can help you overcome your hip pain contact our team.

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