Causes & Treatment For Hip And Hamstring Pain

Hip and hamstring pain can be caused by so many different things, but one thing remains consistent among them all – it sucks.

While they are different muscle groups entirely, sometimes, pain in these two areas can be related. We’ll investigate this deeper in a moment.

Part of what makes dealing with pain in your hips and/or hamstrings so frustrating, is the causes can be as simple as laying on your side wrong or a more serious strain or tear. In this article, we’ll outline all potential causes and their symptoms to help you narrow your issue down.

We’ll also share your treatment options to help you get back to feeling better quickly.

How Pain In Your Hip and Hamstring May Be Interconnected

Our body is made up of a network of muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and all sorts of components that work together to help us move.

It stands to reason that when something isn’t working as well in one area of your body, it can affect other seemingly unrelated areas too. But the hips and hamstrings are in such close proximity to each other that there is no doubt a lousy hip can cause hamstring problems too, and vice versa.

Tight Hips Can Cause Hamstring Pain (and vice versa)

One specific instance we want to highlight, because it’s such a common occurrence, is how tight hips can cause hamstring pain.

When your hip flexors tense up, it pulls the pelvis forward and rotates it. This inevitably leads to tight hamstrings – causing pain there as well.

The opposite can be true as well, as these muscles are somewhat antagonistic to each other. If you develop tight hamstrings, it will pull your pelvis down, tugging on the hip flexor muscles.

This is just one example of how these two are related. Let’s highlight all the potential causes of tight or painful hips and hammies.

What Can Happen If You Ignore Hip and Hamstring Tightness & Discomfort

A bit of tightness in your muscles here and there isn’t going to kill you – despite the discomfort and immobility it may cause. But if you let this tightness compound, eventually, your muscles can tear. This is an inevitable result of stretching a muscle further than it’s supposed to go.

Furthermore, ignoring your body’s warning signs of an issue in your hips and hamstrings will cause pain elsewhere in your body – notably, your back, knees, or even feet. Like we just mentioned, our body is a vast network and everything is interconnected in one way or another.

So, without further ado, let’s address what causes pain in the hips and hamstrings.

The Most Common Causes Of Hip and Hamstring Pain

For the most part, hip and hamstring pain is caused by tightness in the muscle groups. This is especially true if you don’t remember a specific trauma that could have caused it – like a weightlifting or sports injury.

There is a lot of potential for overuse and poor posture resulting in this type of pain, so let’s address a couple very common instances you may be suffering from.

Issues With Your Lifestyle

More often than not, pain in your hips and/or hamstrings comes on gradually, especially as you get older. Most of us sit at a desk too much and use a computer, which creates poor posture and tightness.

Incidentally, this is usually coupled with the fact that we don’t move enough – this contributes to muscle weakness. Without strong glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, etc, our nervous system will compensate for weakness by tensing up.

Motion is lotion, so staying active will go a long way in alleviating your hip and hamstring pain. However, overactivity can be a cause as well. If you are a strength athlete or compete in any competitive sport, the possibility of an overuse injury is always there. 

If you’ve ruled out your lifestyle as a potential cause for the pain in your hip and hamstring, it could be something more serious.

Hamstring Tendinopathy

The tendons which connect your hamstrings to your pelvis can easily become aggravated or injured, resulting in what is known as hamstring tendinopathy. This is a chronic injury, typically from overuse.

Accompanied by the pain in your hamstrings is a pain deep in the glutes, upper thighs, or back of the hips. It typically worsens when sitting down, particularly for prolonged periods. Hamstring tendinopathy can also contribute to pain when exercising or bending at the waist.

Piriformis Syndrome

Another potential cause is piriformis syndrome. This is where a small muscle which runs along the hip (piriformis) becomes inflamed. 

This muscle crosses paths with the sciatic nerve. So, when it is aggravated and enlarged, it presses on the sciatic nerve and can send shooting pain down your hamstring as well, and even into your feet. You’ll likely feel the pain in your glutes as well.

Treating Hip and Hamstring Pain

If you are looking to treat your hip and hamstring pain from home, start with the basics. Rest, and adjust your lifestyle to improve posture.

Then, start stretching and strengthening these muscle groups along with those surrounding them. As we mentioned earlier, stronger muscles are less likely to become injured.

We recommend seeing a medical professional for your hip and hamstring pain if it persists chronically, to come up with a professional treatment plan. This may involve physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, or any combination of these.

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Stevie Compango, CNSC, CPT

Stevie is Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for the past 10 years. He specializes in mobility and chronic pain management. His methods have helped thousands of clients improve the quality of their life through movement.

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