Relieve Outer Hip Pain When Walking With ONE Exercise

Do You Get Outer Hip Pain When Walking?

Watch the video to learn an easy exercise to relieve outer hip pain when walking.|
Plus learn what to do to keep the pain from coming back in the future.

7 Simple Tips To Get Rid Of Hip Pain by Dr. Dave Candy, More 4 Life Physical Therapy, St. Louis, MO

What Causes Outer Hip Pain When Walking?

Outer hip pain is extremely common, especially among women.

Fortunately, there are easy things that you can do to relieve the pain and be able to walk more comfortably.

Common Diagnoses for Outer Hip Pain

If you go to your doctor's office and you complain of outer hip pain, they may poke on the outside of your hip and ask "does it hurt here."

They may take an X-ray to make sure nothing's broken.

Then, your physician will most likely diagnose your outer hip pain as "hip bursitis".

You can't see hip bursitis on an X-ray, so usually the diagnosis is just made on the basis of history alone.

However, several different structures run over the outside of your hip.

Trochanteric Bursa (Hip Bursa)

The bursa is a little fluid-filled sack that sits between your gluteus maximus (butt) muscle, IT band, hip bone, to reduce friction at your hip joint.

Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus

There are deeper muscles beneath your gluteus maximus (yellow) muscle called the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus.

The gluteus medius and minimus can cause outer hip pain when walking.

The gluteus medius and minmus are responsible for keeping your pelvis level when standing on one leg while walking.

As a result, these muscle tendons can be the source of hip pain when walking.

Iliotibial Band (IT Band)

The long tendon, called the iliotibial (IT) band, runs down the side of your hip and thigh.

The IT band can also rub over the outer side of your hip and cause pain when you're walking.

Sciatic Nerve

Furthermore, the sciatic nerve runs through the buttock muscles.

Sciatic nerve can cause outer hip pain when walking

The sciatic nerve can be a source of outer hip pain or can be referred from it's nerve roots in the lower back.

7 Causes Of Sciatica

Therefore, many different things can be the source of outer hip pain when walking.

Fortunately, they all come from one similar movement dysfunction.

As a result, the source of the pain doesn't necessarily matter whether it's the bursa or the gluteus medius and minimus or the IT band or even the sciatic nerve.

The treatments to fix each of those problems are fairly similar because they have the same root cause.

The Root Cause of Outer Hip Pain When Walking

So what causes those structures on the outside of the hip to get irritated when walking?

One cause is the hip adduction movement where the pelvis drops when standing on one leg.

pelvic drop can cause hip pain outer hip pain when walking

This repeatedly stretches the gluteus medius and the IT band over the hip bursa and can cause hip pain.

This movement is often accompanied by hip internal rotation.

excessive hip internal rotation can cause outer hip pain when walking

This movement overstretches the muscles around your sciatic nerve and irritates these structures.

Therefore, stopping the hip adduction/internal rotation movements when walking can decrease your hip pain.

So how do you do that?

Exercise To Relieve Outer Hip Pain When Walking

The activation of a few different muscles can help control your hip motion when you're walking.

These muscles include the tensor fasciae latae (TFL), gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and the deep hip lateral rotators.

Iliotibial band syndrome

Excessive activation of the TFL can cause inward rotation of the thigh.

So, you want to make sure that you're getting your gluteal muscles activated to counteract the forces of the TFL.

In order to be able to walk more comfortably without pain on the outside of the hip, the hip muscles have to work in equal balance.

So how do you get your gluteal muscles activated?

In a staggered standing position, slightly place your weight on the outside part of your foot (supination).

pronation and supination

Think about turning your knee out.

Then, slowly shift your weight forward towards the front leg while maintaining a "knee turned out" position.

You will notice that your buttock muscles activate.

These muscles are the deep hip external rotators and the gluteus medius.

Maintaining gluteal activation while standing on one leg

Furthermore, you need to be able to maintain this position while standing on one leg in order to take a step while walking.

Stand with most of your weight on the outer side of the foot of one leg with your arch lifted.

strengthening exercise for ankle #2- start by lifting your arch

The slowly lift the other foot up off the ground while putting more and more weight on the stance leg.

Ultimately, you want to be able to lift the other leg off the floor without losing the activation of the gluteal muscles on your stance leg.

pelvis level single leg stance exercise can help stop outer hip pain when walking

You can hold onto a wall, a chair, cane, or walker as needed for balance when performing this exercise.

Maintaining gluteal activation when walking

The next step is to dynamically activate the gluteal muscles when walking.

As a result, you need to be able to repeatedly activate the glute muscles of one leg, then the other, when walking.

  1. Start out stepping forward with one leg, turn the knee out.
  2. Place your weight on the outside part of the foot in order to activate the buttock muscles.
  3. Then lift and step with the other leg.
  4. Load weight on the other leg and maintain your gluteal contraction like the first leg.
  5. Repeat over and over again.

As mentioned earlier, you can use a cane to help keep your balance.

Using A Cane Can Help Outer Hip Pain When Walking

Furthermore, you may also need to use a cane or some other assisted device for a short period of time if you have really bad hip pain when you're walking.

If you're worried about using a cane, think about it like wearing an ankle brace after you sprain your ankle.

You need to offload the tissues so that they have a chance to heal.

If your hip adducts/internal rotates every time you take a step, the overstretching of the gluteals will cause further pain.

You're compressing and re-irritating the bursa and all those structures on the outside of the hip, so they never really get a chance to heal.

As a result, it is beneficial to use a cane for a short period of time when your hip muscles are not strong enough.

Using a cane can prevent outer hip pain when walking

This will allow the tissues of your hip to heal and get stronger.

Then once you're strong enough, you can get rid of the cane and not use it anymore.

What Do You Do If Your Outer Hip Pain Is Really Bad?

A very common treatment option is getting a steroid or cortisone injection at the outside of their hip.

For most people, it's okay to get steroid/cortisone injections every now and then, but you don't rely on them for pain relief.

Steroid injections have multiple side-effects that can negatively impact your health:

  1. They can weaken tendons and weaken bones.
  2. They can raise your blood sugar.
  3. They may make you feel jittery or give you trouble sleeping at night.

Additionally, steroid injections do NOT fix the movement problem that caused the inflammation in the first place.

Once the effects of the shot wears off, it's very likely that the inflammation will come back.

Consequently, you still need to fix the movement problem that caused the hip pain.

Moreover, there are some alternatives to steroid injection that can also help with hip pain relief.

Those include:

We use all of those treatments here at More 4 Life because the CAN give patients quick pain relief.

Again, they don't fix the long-term movement problem.  You still need to address the movement dysfunction for long-term relief.

Need Help For Outer Hip Pain When Walking?

If you live in the St. Louis area and need help for outer hip pain, we'd be happy to help you here at More 4 Life.

We'll can:

help you figure out what's causing your outer hip pain

do hands-on treatment to get you quick relief

teach you want to do to keep the pain from coming back in the future

If you'd like help for your hip pain, just tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.

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