In conclusion with my previous post about weak hips…
There are a lot of articles out there that highlight strength exercises for runners hips. The ones that I have found to be the most effective and time-worthy are the following:
Side Lying Hip Circles:
- Start laying on your side with your legs straight and stacked.
- Lift the top leg up and behind the bottom leg by a few inches.
- Squeeze your glutes and make small circles in the air with your leg.
- Repeat 3×10 circles in each direction on each side.
If you begin to feel the burn early on with this exercise, you are doing it right. This movement targets the glute medius but, not in the traditional strengthening way. What this exercise actually does, is create a stronger mind to body awareness so that the brain can communicate with the muscle complex better when running.
Standing Hip Abduction:
- Take a small and strong resistance band and place it around both ankles. The band should be a high to intense strength and so small that you may have trouble imagining how it could ever fit around both of your ankles.
- Stand up and hold onto something to maintain your balance. Be sure to stand up straight.
- Squeeze your glutes and kick one leg out to the side. The aim is not to kick as far as you can but, to control your leg on the way out and especially on the way back in. Do not put your foot down in between of kicks.
- Repeat 2×15 kicks on each leg.
This exercise is great because it is simple and can be done almost anywhere as long as you can find a resistance band. For my clients, I will take a long roll of Theraband and cut a small piece off to create my own ankle loop.
Single Leg Bridges:
- Start laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
- Lift one leg into the air, keeping it parallel with your opposite thigh.
- Squeeze your glute and dig your heel into the floor to lift your body up into a bridge. During this movement, keep your other leg parallel with your thigh the whole time.
- Come down and repeat 2×15 bridges on each leg
Single leg bridges are a quick way to create tone in your glutes and your abs at the same time. The exercise benefits runners because it forces them to think about the glute muscles in very specific way. Do not do this exercise mindlessly. Consider the squeezing of the muscles and their relaxation as you come down from the movement.
- Start in the bridge position with both glutes squeezed and you heels actively digging into the ground. You will hold this position for the duration of the exercise.
- Turn one side of your glute OFF while keeping the other, squeezed. Switch 10 times and come down for a break.
If you are going to do one hip strengthening exercise, this should be it. This exercise is very difficult to grasp but, once you do it will become easier to perform. When you turn OFF one side of your glute, the same hip should slightly dip down / tilt at an angle. Imagine a string holding both of your hips up. One string is given some slack and the hip drops. That is what happens when you turn your glute off. This exercise forces you to create the same mind body awareness that we talked about earlier and create strength at the same time.
So, what do all of these exercises have in common? Yes, they all strengthen the hips but,, they do so by involving the butt muscles. Unless you are sprinting, running never takes you into what’s called full hip extension. That just means your glute never fully flexes to the point where your legs are in line with your trunk. Overtime, this leaves your glutes under-developed in relation to the some of the other prime movers in the lower body.
This is a problem. When a muscle doesn’t do its job, another muscle compensates for the under preforming muscle. In the situation of weak glutes, it’s a common scenario for the hamstrings to do the workload of the glutes.
Next time, we will talk about the importance of the glutes and the role that they play while running.