Collegiate Cross Country & Track Runner With Recurring Hip Pain

This runner presented to BE physical therapy with a chronic, recurring hip pain that she was not able to fully recover from.  She had X-ray images and MRI of the hip which did not reveal any fractures or tears.  She was undergoing physical therapy at her school, and she was no longer running in order to allow the hip to heal.  She did not have a definitive diagnosis, but she was being treated with the assumption that it was a muscle strain.  Treatments at school were not helping, and every time she tried to return to running she would feel the pain.

Sensing this athlete’s frustration, one of BE’s clients referred her to our care.  She was given a thorough examination of her strength, flexibility, joint mobility, and motor coordination.  Her symptoms were found to be coming from the soft tissue structures of the hip, but there was a particular reason as to why she was inflamed.  The therapist found a dysfunction in her pelvic joint mobility that was likely affecting the work load to the muscle, straining the hip.  Additionally, the support muscles in the hip were not as strong as they needed to be.  Her ability to activate her core and control her pelvis/hips/knees while in a weight bearing position was sub-par, placing additional stress to the hip as well.  

The physical therapy plan included manual joint mobilization and tissue releases to facilitate normal pelvic and hip movement, stretches to promote the necessary joint range of motion in the lower extremity, strength training to teach proper muscle activation and firing patterns, neuromuscular coordination exercises to improve her single leg stability and movement control, and analysis and coaching for her running form in order to limit unnecessary stress to the body while also improving her ability to recruit the appropriate muscles in the proper sequence for running.

This runner was able to return to pain-free running within a couple weeks.  She was then given a progressive strength routine to work on while at school.  She was also given cross-training recommendations for off and in-season training so as to limit unnecessary pounding and stress to her body. 

She occasionally returns to BE for tune-ups when she is feeling “off” in her hips and pelvis.  Over the past two years, she has been able to utilize the principles learned at BE to take care of her body and perform the necessary body maintenance and cross-training in order to train consistently and therefore compete at a high level.  In this time, she has propelled herself as one of her school’s best runners all-time and will be representing them at the 2018 NCAA Division I National Championships in Oregon.