Your hips play a very important role in your running mechanics. Runners who have weak hips are at a higher risk for a number of different injuries, such as IT band syndrome, hamstring tendinopathy, Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis as well as patellofemoral pain syndrome (which is also known as runner’s knee).
Fortunately hip strength is something that can be improved, which can help reduce injury and associated pain. Strengthening your hip abductors takes time, so make sure that you start slowly and progress safely.
What Do Your Hip Abductors Actually Do?
The main hip abductor muscles are your gluteus medius, gluteus minimus as well as your tensor fasciae latae. These three small muscles are solely responsible for lifting your leg out to the side of your body. When you’re running, your abductor muscles on your stance leg are responsible for lifting up the non-stance side of your hip without giving your hip the opportunity to drop considerably to one side.
These muscles are quite easy to overlook, and runners frequently ignore them until they have an injury. By integrating the following exercises into your regular routine, you will be able to take care of many common runner injuries before they take place, so you have no interruptions in training.
Side-Lying Leg Lifts
One of the most straightforward ways of developing your hip abductors is with this simple exercise. It can be done anywhere, anytime and needs no equipment at all.
Yoga or exercise mat or a comfy, firm surface
Hip abductor muscles, as well as the gluteus medius
- Lie down on your side and have your hips stacked.
- Ensure that you support your head by folding your floor side arm under your head.
- Put your top hand on the floor in front of you as a reminder that you must not lean forward or backward.
- Stack and flex both of your feet.
- Lift the top leg up just higher than your hip up until you feel your hip flex. Hold for two seconds.
- Lower down for a count of three and return to the start position.
- Repeat on one side for 10 reps and after this switch to the other leg, working up to three sets.
- As you make progress, aim to do 20 reps on each side.
Side Plank With Hip Hike
This exercise focuses on your abs, shoulders as well as hip abductors. The key to doing these exercises correctly is to make sure your legs are in line with your trunk, and not wandering forwards, which will miss your abductor muscles. If doing these from your feet is too hard at first, do them from your knees, bending them at 90 degrees and making sure you can draw a straight line from your knees to your head. Aim for 10-20 repetitions.
Hip drops are utilised to rehabilitate a weak hip abductor, which may lead to mechanical issues in the legs, for example iliotibial band syndrome.
This easy, yet intentional, exercise needs to be done with control and body awareness in order to ensure that the hip is initiating the move as opposed to the legs.
A raised step, such as the bottom of a staircase or a fitness bench on one or two risers
- Stand up tall on a step or raised surface with one foot.
- Make sure that you keep your standing leg straight.
- Lower your opposite leg down, starting the movement from your hip.
- Keep your standing leg straight as well as your shoulders stable during the entire movement.
- Maintain the lowered position for two seconds without letting your pelvis rotate.
- Return to neutral with your hips levelled once again.
- Make each movement lower. Lift slowly and in a controlled manner.
- Do between 12 and 15 reps, working toward 20 to 25 on each side.
Do you want to learn more about exercise? If you do then you need to do our Exercise Science Certification. Follow this link to learn more.