Hi there SRC community!!
This week’s focus for Workout Wednesday is hip strengthening and mobility! I will go through the importance of having strong hips as runners, and simple exercises that can be done to strengthen the hips.
The hip region is an area of the body that is often overlooked in runners. We have a tendency to forget that our body is a kinetic chain, which means that many injuries in the lower leg region often stem from a weakness in an area higher up, such as the hips and glutes. Injuries such as patellofemoral pain syndrome, or “runner’s knee,” Iliotibial band syndrome, and tight lower backs can be attributed to weak hips.
Hip weakness can be attributed to spending more time sitting at desks during school or at work. Although this is mostly out of our control, there are many ways in which we can increase our range of motion, strength, and flexibility to combat this.
Backed by research
Studies published in the Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy and the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine have found that when the hip over-rotated and collapsed inwards during the gait cycle (due to weakness), there was a higher risk of illiotibial band injuries. Also that there is an association between overuse injuries in the lower extremities and poor strength in the muscles around the hip region, including the hip abductor, adductor and flexor. There is a growing amount of research being done regarding injury prevention through hip stabilization and strengthening.
As you can already tell, having strong hips is incredibly important for preventing injury. If a runner is weak in the hip area, they are at a greater risk for overcompensation injuries. when these muscles are weak, they are not able to do the work they are supposed to do during running. Other muscles must take on that work, which can result in overuse issues. By strengthening the entire kinetic chain, individual muscles aren’t required to do more than they are built to do.
The hips stabilize each leg during the stance phase of the running gait, which makes strengthening this area is particularly important. Hip weakness throws off stability, resulting in excess movement not only at the hip, but also at the knee.
What can you do?
To strengthen the hips and gluteus, as well as increasing range of motion and flexibility try out some of these awesome exercises. They are simple, effective, and can be done almost anywhere! Aim to perform each exercise 12-15 times, for three sets, 3 times a week.
Bird Dog: Get on all fours on the ground. Focusing on balance, lift your right arm and extend it straight out in front of your body. Simultaneously, lift your left leg and extend it out behind your body. Bring your extended arm and bent knee back to center under your body, and then extend them both out again. Be sure to keep your core tight and activated. Repeat 12-15 times on each side.
Donkey Kicks: Stay on all fours. This time you will only be lifting and extending your legs, keeping your hands on the ground. Instead of extending the leg backwards like you did during Bird Dogs, keep the knee slightly bent and kick upwards, with the bottom of your shoe facing the sky. Repeat 12-15 times on each side.
Fire Hydrants: Stay on all fours. Again, you will only be lifting and extending your legs, keeping your hands on the ground. This time you will lift your leg up to the side (so you look like a dog lifting his leg on a fire hydrant). Repeat 12-15 times on each side.
Clamshells: Lying on your side with one leg on top of another, bend your knees slightly bent and ankles together. Keeping the bottom leg glued to the ground, open and close your top leg like a clam. Be sure not to rotate your torso when you open up the knee. Once this becomes easy, add a resistance band around the thighs right above the knees. Repeat 12-15 times on each side.
Heel to Knee-Knee to Knee: staying in the same side lying, knee bent position, bring the heel of your top leg to the knee of your leg that is on the ground. Then bring the knee of your top leg to the knee of your bottom leg. Repeat this motion 12-15 times on each side.
Single-Leg Bridge: Lie on your back with both legs bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it while you raise your lower back and butt. Hold the position for two seconds and lower back downwards in a controlled manner. Repeat 10 to 15 times on each leg.
Side Leg Raises: Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of one another. Lift your top leg to about 45 degrees and then lower it back down. Repeat 15 to 20 times per leg.
Lateral walks: Using a resistance band just above your ankles, assume a half squat position, legs shoulder width apart. Maintaining the half squat position, step laterally 12-15 times on each side.
Happy hip strengthening!!
Want more hip strengthening exercise ideas?