Hip Pain From Cycling

Hip pain from cycling tends to start either along the front inner hip crease (groin) or radiates outward from the outer hip or bum cheek. The pain might linger in one area or shoot down the thigh or lower back.

The hip joint secures the thigh bone to the pelvic region, allowing for rotational motion and weight support. Enveloping this joint is a network of muscles – the gluteals, piriformis, hip flexors, and hip rotators – working together to direct hip movement and maintain stability with activity. Inflammation of these muscles can translate into hip pain.

hip pain from cycling

Common Hip Injuries from Cycling

You have a small, but powerful, piriformis muscle nestled deep within the buttock. If this tightens or spasms, it can irritate the sciatic nerve beneath it – resulting in hip pain.

Overlying the outer hip bone is a small fluid sac called a bursa, serving as a cushion between bone and muscle. When inflamed (known as trochanteric bursitis), localised pain and tenderness can radiate over that outer hip region. This is particularly noticeable when lying on that side at night or dismounting the bike.

In both cases, small structures near the hip joint get irritated, which translates into pain in different parts of the hip and buttock. Piriformis syndrome sends pain down the leg, while bursitis keeps it localised to the outer hip. Getting the correct diagnosis and treatment can help reduce that pain and keep you riding in comfort.

Symptoms of Hip Pain

Causes of Hip Pain from Cycling

Treatment for Hip Pain from Cycling

Take a Break

Stay off your bike for a few days, then slowly ease back into riding and get a feel for whether your hips can take it. Take your time with your return and pace yourself.

Ice for Swelling and Pain

Icing becomes helpful when hips hurt. Ice packs on painful areas after rides may reduce swelling and pain. Try icing a few times daily for 12-15 minutes.

Medication for Temporary Relief

Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can briefly help by lowering inflammation and pain. But use these judiciously since prolonged use can have side effects.

See a Specialist for Targeted Exercise

Seeing a physiotherapist enables you to address any muscle imbalances, alignment, or movement issues. They can prescribe personalised stretches and exercises for strengthening your core and hips based on your cycling demands.

Low-Impact Cardio for Recovery

While recovering, get cardiovascularly fit through low-impact options like swimming, the elliptical or light jogging. These increase blood flow without further irritating the injury.

Professional Bike Fit

A professional bike fitting tweaks seat height, cleat alignment and handlebar position to reduce hip pressure while riding. Proper positioning prevents recurring problems later.

When to See a Physiotherapist

Casual cyclists should consider seeing a physiotherapist if hip pain persists for over 2 weeks despite rest, icing, and medication.

Flares lasting this long indicate an underlying issue requiring assessment. Physios can evaluate hip mobility limitations, muscle imbalances, or bike fit problems contributing to discomfort. They design customised treatment plans to settle symptoms and prevent future reoccurrence. For those relying on their bike for transportation, investing in physical therapy often speeds full recovery and return to regular activity.

Competitive athletes must see a therapist at the first twinge of hip trouble. Minor irritations swiftly escalate with continued hardcore training, risking possible serious injury. Expert physiotherapists assess pain onset, educate on modifying training, provide immediate pain-relieving modalities, and initiate therapeutic exercises. Athletes who quickly address minor hip issues can minimise performance impact and lost training time. Guidance on appropriately progressing back to full cycling intensity further reduces re-injury risk.

Physical Therapy Phases

Early Relief Phase

The early phase focuses on settling initial symptoms. It emphasises rest, pain modulation through ice/heat, and gentle range of motion exercises to provide hip relief.

Anti-inflammatory medication can assist with pain and swelling reduction. The goal is to calm inflammation while avoiding aggravation of the injury. This phase lasts 1-2 weeks.

Mobility Recovery Phase

The activation phase targets regaining mobility, neuromuscular control, stability, and strength around the hip joint. Muscle re-education, coordination exercises, stretching and gentle hip strengthening, enable control and movement re-patterning.

Modalities like ultrasound or TENS units could enhance this process. The phase duration depends on the individual’s response, often 2-4 weeks.

Strength Building Phase

The strength phase more intensely builds hip muscle endurance required for cycling using resistance bands, weights, or exercise machines. Sport-specific balance and agility drills can help return natural movement patterns.

Low-impact cardio training maintains overall fitness. The focus is on developing power and resilience to gradually return to riding over 4-6 weeks.

Progress between phases is not always linear, and stages may overlap based on how the individual responds. Close monitoring and adjustment of the program ensures each phase adequately restores function before progressing activity levels. This therapeutic approach aims to optimise recovery outcomes and prevent future re-injury.

Recovery Timeline

Minor Muscle Strain

Irritation or slight strains of the piriformis, hip flexors, adductors, or gluteal muscles often respond well to conservative treatment. Resting from riding for 3-5 days combined with icing, OTC anti-inflammatories, and gentle stretching allows symptoms to settle.

Most cyclists try training through this discomfort, risking 3 to 4 weeks of tissue healing on an injury that started as a minor one.

Trochanteric/Iliopsoas Bursitis

Lateral hip pain from inflamed bursa tissue generally improves over 4-6 weeks. Applying ice packs to reduce swelling, taking NSAID medication, modifying activities, and receiving physiotherapy aids in calming irritation. Corticosteroid injections are sometimes necessary in more stubborn cases.

Muscular Tear

Partial or full-thickness tears of the hip abductors, external rotators and piriformis require immobilisation to allow proper healing. Using crutches avoids overloading and further tearing injured muscle fibres. Fibre knitting and scar tissue formation after 4-8 weeks enable slowly progressing hip stabilisation and strength.

Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI)

FAI from abnormal hip morphology risks damaging the labrum and cartilage through repetitive motion. Arthroscopic surgery reshapes bone, allowing clearance for movement. After 3 months of protected weight-bearing, cyclists can cautiously resume short training rides. Full recovery takes around 6 months.

Careful adherence to each recovery stage is vital for optimising healing outcomes and preventing recurrence when returning to cycling. Pushing rehabilitation too quickly risks re-aggravating irritable tissues. Patience pays off long-term.

Our Services

Our specialist physiotherapist clinic treats a wide range of disorders and conditions including conditions related to hip pain. We offer a detailed assessment for all new patients to evaluate the condition(s) and from there we will devise a tailored treatment plan which will typically involve specific exercises, strength work, stretches and hands on manipulation.

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