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Hip Pain in Teenage Athletes

It’s no surprise hip pain is a common problem in teenage athletes. Between constant growth spurts and activity levels at an all-time high, sometimes the hip joint has a hard time working properly. It’s important to know the different types of hip pain and how to manage it.

“Teenage athletes are growing at a fast rate,” says Bryanna Howard, University of Utah Health Athletic Trainer at Mountain Ridge High School in Herriman. “Bones at this age are usually growing faster than muscles and tendons, which can cause pain in the hip joint.” Howard works with 20 varsity sports and sees hip pain more commonly in basketball and soccer athletes.

Treatment options are available for those experiencing painful hips. Many patients may need personalized treatment to meet their unique needs. It's important to find a specialist that provides high-quality, coordinated care that targets your personal hip problems.

Signs of hip pain

Chronic hip pain can develop over time, and it’s helpful to know the signs so you can try and prevent it as much as possible. Changes in your ability to walk or run can be one of the first signs of hip trouble. Also, keep an eye out for reoccurring pain that becomes more frequent.

How to manage hip pain

“Developing a working diagnosis will help us answer why hip pain is occurring,” Howard says. “The next step is managing it.” Most of the time, hip pain is caused by muscle strain. Modifying activity and restricting the movement of the particular muscle that is strained is the best way to help it heal. Overused muscles require a different approach.

“We provide the athlete with a home exercise plan to focus on getting the smaller and more specialized muscles stronger that are most likely underdeveloped,” Howard says. This helps address all muscles in the hip instead of just the major muscles such as the quadriceps or hamstrings.

Tips to prevent hip pain

  1. Be sure to focus on stretching all areas of your leg and really warming up those muscles. Stretching for at least 10 minutes before practice can really help to prevent hip pain from occurring.
  2. If something starts to hurt or isn’t feeling right, tell your athletic trainer. Their goal is to keep you healthy and playing the sport you love. “We can help athletes modify their activity level so they are working ‘smarter not harder,’” Howard says. “This will ultimately help improve their performance.”
  3. Switch to low-impact exercises to reduce the constant pounding in the leg. For example, instead of running with the team, hop on the bike to still get a great cardio workout.

As always, our goal is to keep you healthy and in the game! If you’re still experiencing hip pain after working with your athletic trainer, learn more about hip preservation.

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