Do you ever have pain on the outer side of your hip or pain running down your leg? Is it worse when laying on your side – especially in bed or after sitting for long periods? Lateral – or outer – hip pain is a really common complaint we see in clinic. It is far more common in females, with the statistics showing 1 in 4 women between the ages of 40 – 60 yrs experiencing troubles with outer hip pain. However, it can present at any age. The ache or tenderness can be caused by an accumulation of restrictions: namely tight hip flexors and lower back stiffness from too much sitting or postural imbalances. Other causes include trauma or inflammatory conditions such as bursitis. 

Dr Emma Gray says that lateral hip pain generally comes on slowly, and may just start as a tightness around the hip or on the outside of the thigh which gradually becomes more constant and can have an effect on our gait. The pain may also become a dull ache at night which can really affect your sleep. “Anatomically, females have a wider pelvis than males meaning our hips naturally sit further apart” says Dr Gray. “This also means that the stretch on the muscles and tendons on the outside of the hip is greater, and therefore our risk of these areas becoming overloaded is more likely.” 

As Osteopaths, we treat this condition holistically, because it tends to have an impact on all aspects of our movement. We primarily target the hip discomfort through a variety of techniques including the use of soft tissue release to decompress the hips and increase movement in the lower back.

The primary aim is to decompress the symptomatic hip, via soft tissue release and hip traction as well as increasing mobility in the low back. Pain in the hip, that is coming from a tendon, needs specific strengthening to create a long-term solution.  

In the early stages, lateral hip pain doesn’t like being stretched. Dr Gray notes that “releasing compressive tissues via foam rolling and hands on treatment will relieve it more effectively. Gentle, isolated strengthening can usually be commenced straight away as when the inflammation settles this load can be increased.”  



  • Stand while ‘leaning on one hip’
  • Stand or sit with your legs crossed
  • Sit with your knees together and feet splayed outwards
  • Avoid being seated all day. Get up and move. 
  • At the gym avoid the hip compressing exercises like leg press, squats and crunches. 


  • Sleep on your back with a cushion underneath your knees 
  • Sleep on your side with a long cushion between the knees & ankles to keep pelvis level.
  • Replace hip compressing exercises with plank pose and glute bridges. 
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods and drink lots of water. 
  • Rest the hip joint and cool your hip inflammation with an ice pack for 15mins 2 x a day. 
  • Listen to your body. If your hip pain worsens, visit your osteo for treatment.