You know running is great for your cardiovascular health, and you know it keeps you in shape for that little black dress you've been waiting to wear. Running makes you feel uplifted and powerful, and you know that if you can just finish the run you set out to do, you can do anything. You don't have to let pain in your hips or hamstrings sideline you, but pain is your body's way of having a conversation with you, and you need to take a moment to listen.
RICE Your Injury
Rest your hamstring and hip if it's bothering you; the pain may be the cause of a muscle pull or tear, and it will need time to heal. Following each hard workout day with an easy workout day is one way to help prevent overuse injuries.
Apply ice for 20 minutes out of every hour to help reduce the swelling in the tissues and allow them to heal.
Wrap your hamstring with sports tape or an elastic bandage. Treatment for hip pain may be harder, but the hip pain may be an extension of your injured hamstring.
Elevate your injured hamstring for a few minutes every hour and while you sleep.
Improve Hip Strength
Move around during the day to stretch muscles that shorten as you sit.
Strengthen your hip flexors by doing leg raises. A study by Dr. Reed Feber, the director of the University of Calgary's Running Injury Clinic, found that 93 percent of the 284 study participants complaining of leg pain had weak hips. Hip-strengthening exercises helped reduce pain in 90 percent of those patients.
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Stretch your hip flexors and hamstrings regularly. Injuries occur when the load placed on your muscles exceeds your flexibility, like a rubber band being stretched too far.
Practice rhythmic breathing as you run. Inhale for three steps and exhale for two so you're beginning your next exhale on the opposite foot. The foot that strikes the ground when you begin to exhale is the side that will absorb the most running stress; you can avoid overuse injury by distributing that stress equally to both sides.
- Warm up for at least five minutes before beginning any exercise.
- Remain well hydrated before and during exercise.
- If you begin to feel acute pain while running, don't "run through" it. Acute pain is the sign of an injury and should be treated immediately. If you don't see improvement after a few days of applying RICE, see a sports medicine specialist.
Ari Reid has a bachelor's degree in biology (behavior) and a master's in wildlife ecology. When Reid is not training to run marathons, she is operating a non-profit animal rescue organization. Reid has been writing web content for science, health and fitness blogs since 2008.