Hips Don’t Lie: the connection between runners and hips

Two years of working in a physical therapy office that primarily treats runners, the first trend that stuck out to me among these athletes was their oddly weak hips. Why were all these runners (from the weekend warriors to semi-professional runners) having so much trouble with their hip strength tests? I became curious about my own hip strength…so, I got tested and quickly found out that my hip strength (abduction in particular) was embarrassingly weak. I started a hip strengthen program (bodyweight/resistance bands) and it kicked my butt. Then, like every “bad-patient” I forgot about the hip exercises, was in an off-season from running, and completely forgot that my hips were weak. This weekend, my friend asked me to do a long run with her. I had written her a training plan for the Columbus Marathon and wanted to support her along the way. She had 14 miles scheduled, under 8:30 pace. We did it together on the Montour Trail and had a blast. I forgot how social of a sport running is!

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But….my hips didn’t forget how weak they were. First of all, I do not suggest that you decide to run 14 miles after only running twice a week for three weeks. Second, my hips were so sore after this run, it wasn’t even funny. Seriously though, why are strong hips for runners so important? Strong hips can do a lot for you. Keep these things in mind:

  • Prevent injuries like runners knee & IT band syndrome.
  • Generate more force through the hips & glutes versus the quads and calves.
  • Maintain a stable running gait, especially in long runs and marathon training.
  • Control in the trunk, pelvis, knees, and even ankles starts in the hips.

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Maintaining your hip strength will not only make you less prone to injury, it will make you a better runner by improving your running economy. Imagine if the difference between a 3:37 and a 3:35 marathon was a few seconds you could have shaved off each mile post mile 16 if your hips weren’t killing you? That’s huge!

So, what can you do to maintain your hip strength? Keep your eyes peeled for my next post!

Happy running,

❤ A

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