A very common complaint from cyclists is painful hips. Unfortunately, cycling hip pain is very common. This post has a video showing three simple hip stretches that almost miraculously cured my own debilitating and very painful cycling hip pain. I hope they will help you too.
Cycling hip pain usually stems from stiffness in the hip rotator, and from overworking the gluteus maximus. Hip pain can often be remedied with just a few minutes of simple stretching, every day (and especially on days when you cycle). The three hip stretches demonstrated in the video below should do the trick for most hip pain associated with hip stiffness and cycling hip pain. It should also work for most age-related hip pain that prevents people from exercising as they age. In fact, I am publishing this post mainly for my sister, who lives in Australia, and is starting to have hip pain when she tries to run. She has been a great runner all her life, but these kinds of exercises can become more challenging for our bodies after 40. Hope this helps, Sandra!
A while ago I was having recurrent, severe attacks of hip pain in the “wallet area.” As I am a total drama king, I imagined that I was growing a tumor just below my hipbone. Perhaps caused by radiation from all those credit cards? However, Google was pretty clear that credit cards do NOT cause cancer; and that there were NO organs in that area that could possibly be tumorous. So I finally got sensible and went to see a highly skilled physiotherapist (Saqib Niaz from Royal City Physio, the guy who magically solves all my cycling-related aches and pains).
Saqib showed me the three hip stretching exercises in the video, which I now do most evenings. The pain went away, and has never come back. So if you are having hip pain from cycling, running, or just from living longer than the average cave man, I strongly advise that you try these simple hip stretches. Saqib demonstrates them in the video, and explains how long to hold the stretches for. Basically, hold the two hard stretches for 10 seconds and the easy one for 30 seconds, and repeat each stretch three times. It takes very little time, and is 100% worth it.
These exercises all help to address the most common cause of cycling hip pain. They target “wallet area” pain, which is very important. Left untreated, this pain can start to put pressure on your sciatic nerve, which can eventually cause pain or even numbness down the leg and in the hip. This pain is caused by the very common cyclist tendency to have an imbalance in muscle strength. In particular, we develop world-class butt strength, but the tiny muscle called the piriformis (which rotates the leg outward), is very weak. Just think for a minute about how often on your bike rides you rotate your legs outwards. I know, who knew that could be important, right? However, this imbalance causes tightness, which leads to hip pain. Do these stretches every day, and if you are like me, the pain will almost miraculously disappear. As usual with stretching sessions, Saqib advises three sets of stretches, with no bouncing – they are all controlled, gentle stretches. If you feel pain, stop!
Strengthen Your Piriformis!
I also do an exercise called “clam shells” every day, to strengthen the piriformis. And no, I am not going to demonstrate it! However, a nice young person from Kinetic Sports Rehab kindly demonstrates it below:
I do all of these stretches regularly, combining them with the leg stretching routine I describe in this post. Those stretches keep aches and pains associated with cycling under control for me. I highly advise doing both the leg stretches and the hip stretches, if you want to have an active life without pain. And to be honest, I have figured out a comfy way to do all of these in bed – I am not big on the whole lying-on-the-floor thing. It really is possible to do these exercises quickly and in comfort, I promise! No yoga mat required …
Note: if these stretches don’t help, see your own physiotherapist, and if that doesn’t help, see your doctor in case something more serious is going on. But rest assured, it will not be caused by credit-card-induced cancer of the wallet area! (Thanks, Google!)
I hope these exercises help you with your hip pain, and get you back on your bike. And Sandra, I hope you are soon back to running like a springbok!
Please use the comments if you have any tips to add on cycling hip pain, or any questions.
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