Cycling & Hip Bursitis

Updated November 21, 2016

An individual is suffering from hip bursitis when the bursa in the hip swells and becomes painful. The bursa is a sac that is fluid-filled and serves as a shock absorber or cushion between a bone and a tendon. Usually, there is very little fluid in a bursa; however, when the bursa is injured, which can happen while cycling, it becomes filled with too much fluid, gets inflamed and hurts.


Hip bursitis manifests in one of three ways: It can be ischialgluteal bursitis, which means that you will experience pain at the base of your hips; iliopectineal bursitis, which is groin pain; or trochanteric bursitis, which is pain on the side of your hip, explains Dr. Nathan Wei of the Arthritis and Osteoporosis Center of Maryland.


Bursitis, which causes aching, pain and stiffness, can occur if there is constant pressure on the hips, which there is when cycling. Sitting on a hard surface, such as the seat of a bike, for long periods of time can result in bursitis. Overuse of the hips while engaging in sports or other physical activities can cause in bursitis as can repetitive motions, such as pedalling a bike.

Overuse Injury

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, overuse injuries are common, particularly among those cyclists who are involved in competitive racing. The saddle of your bike, which is the seat, the pedals and the handlebars, all need to be adjust correctly to prevent overuse injuries, such as hip bursitis, and your bike should be the right size for you. If the bike is too big or too small you are going to sustain an injury at some point.


Pressure on the ischial tuberosities causes butt tenderness, particularly in new riders. If you use a proper saddle or seat you can avoid this type of injury. Cycling can also result in deep fibrous masses in the buttocks, which can be painful.


If you are a cyclist suffering from hip bursitis, Wei recommends you let your hip rest and give the bursa some time to heal. This will decrease the incidence of swelling and pain. You can apply cold packs to your hips, which will constrict blood vessels, which helps reduce inflammation. Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine will decrease swelling and pain. A shot of corticosteroid can be given to decrease inflammation. Undergoing physiotherapy may help. The objective of physiotherapy is to increase the flow of blood to the injured area and stretching the tissue.

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About the Author

Cindi Pearce is a graduate of Ohio University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She completed both the undergraduate and graduate courses offered by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Pearce has been writing professionally for over 30 years.