The Guru explains to Josh that his hip pain can’t be cured simply by stretching

June 11, 2015

I’m 29. Just over a year ago I started training for an obstacle course race.

I was really unfit at the time (desk bound job) and ended up leaving training until the last 2 months or so before the race (14 months from now). I’m generally healthy (apart from sitting all day long) and not overweight, in fact, I’m probably underweight. Training was interrupted by various strains and pains. Ended up getting bad pain underneath the kneecap after about 5km.

Tried switching to barefoot running without properly adapting (which made by calves super stiff). Started running with shoes again when I realised I didn’t have time to become a barefoot runner before the race. Eventually ran the obstacle course using pain killers (and normal running shoes) to help, but felt destroyed by the end of the race and for the next couple weeks after.

Ever since then I’ve had various aches and pains. Most of which I’ve managed to solve with a hockey ball and a roller on the sore spots.

I’ve also continued running barefoot, but I’ve done very very little mileage. After a couple of 6km barefoot runs I started getting hip pain. The pain I get in my hip is in multiple places (but only on the right). Just behind the hip bone (in the region of my piriformis I think), and then along and down my sciatic nerve (which I can feel twitch sometimes if I squat). I also have loads of tightness in the side of my hip (my tensor fasciae latae?). And I get a catching feeling when moving on the front of my hip (where my inguinal ligament is I think?). It’s hard to identify a source really.

The pain described above has lasted roughly 3 months, before which I ran those two 6km runs mentioned earlier. I haven’t really run since, except for a 100m – 500m jogs every now and then when my hip feels better. My hip is generally stiff in the morning, and after walking for about 10minutes it will get tight (especially in the morning). If I jog slowly with good form for short distances then my hip tends to be OK..

I’ve spent the last 3 months stretching and massaging my pains with the hockey ball. I get some satisfaction from this, but it doesn’t tend to last long before the pain comes back.

What could be the problem? What should I do differently? Do you I need to see a physio?


June 11, 2015

Hi Josh

Pretty understandably frustrating for you – there is a myriad of advice, both good and poor out there.

From experience I’ve never yet heard or seen anyone “cure” themselves by stretching and getting friendly with a golf ball – so you’re pretty normal.

First up, knock the barefoot running idea on the head until you know why you’ve still got ongoing issues.

Secondly, stop all stretching. The tissue which feels tight is probably stiff (yes pedantic stuff!). Stiff tissue is protecting something such as a joint or a nerve – and if you stretch the stiffness away and so remove the protective mechanism the tissue will even more reactive causing even more protective muscle stiffness – a proper vivacious circle!

Muscles generally get stiff around the pelvis to either protect the hip joint or lumbar spine which has too much joint play not necessarily gross range of motion. You need to establish why – and that’s the cause.

Commonly it’s things like a stiff thoracic spine, which is well away from where you feel your symptoms but poor posture leads to poor control and poor control can lead to overload and over use the your back, hips and pelvis – where you feel your symptoms.

The Guru

Guru Responded

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