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Your hips are at the center of movement for any activity you do. As your hips become healthier and more flexible, you can improve your strength and power.
As a runner, you likely prioritize health and fitness while wanting to stay at the top of your game. Keeping your hips in good shape is essential to optimizing your running performance and avoiding injuries.
We have some expert advice from our physical therapists at AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab on exercises you can do at home to keep your hips strong and healthy. Read more to find out how our team can help.
Why is Hip Strength So Important?
When you’re running, the groin and inner thigh work together to stabilize your hips. If there’s weakness in either of these muscle groups, you may feel pain. Weak hip muscles can throw off running mechanics, which strains other muscles groups like a ripple effect. As other muscles work harder to compensate for your weak hips, you might experience overuse injuries such as:
- Iliotibial band syndrome: Excessive tightness or inflammation in the IT band
- Low back pain: Pain that affects your lower back
- Plantar fasciitis: Foot and heel pain/inflammation
- Runner’s knee: Softening or damage of cartilage at the back of the kneecap
- Shin splints: Pain in the front of the lower legs
Keeping your hips strong is so important to avoid injuries like these. With simple exercises, you can support your hip strength and keep them flexible so your whole body can better serve you to run at your very best.
Hip Strength Exercises
Trevor Hicks, PT, OSC walked us through some easy exercises meant to strengthen your hips and core. These are easy exercises you can do at home that don’t require expensive equipment.
Trevor says, “When I think of hip and core strengthening for runners, I think of three things: muscular endurance, strength, as well as our power production.” The exercises he teaches us hit on all three of those key areas for a well-rounded workout.
Bridge for Muscular Endurance
Lay on the floor with your heels hip-width apart and fairly close to your hips. Lift your hips off the floor, creating a bridge with your body. Stay as steady as you can.
For the next phase, try to lift one leg a few inches off the floor without your hips and pelvis dropping. If there is any sagging or dropping of your hips, there is likely some weakness in the hips. Repeat with the other leg.
Squat Reps for Strength Training
Holding a medicine ball at your chest, drop into a front squat. Keep your low back neutral, drive from your hip as you come back up. Stay controlled on your way back down, almost as if you’re sitting in a chair.
You can add pauses as you’re doing them. The longer time you’re under tension, the better. Do 5-10 reps and take your time.
Quicker Reps for Power Production
Repeat the instructions for the squat reps above, but move through them as quickly as you can and throw the medicine ball up every time you come back up.
“You’re going for the elasticity, that recoil of movement, so that way when you’re running, your contact time on each foot is going to be quicker,” says Trevor.”
For visual examples of these exercises and more, check out Trevor’s video below as he walks you through each movement with help from demonstrator, Cory.
Hip Flexibility Exercises
To help with hip flexibility, mobility and range of motion, Julian Richards, PT, explains a key stretching exercise for your hip flexors, and an exercise to activate and strengthen your glutes in order to improve hip extension.
“What you’ll need for this,” says Julian, “is a stretch-out strap and something that you can use to support yourself.”
Watch, listen and follow along as Julian explains these simple and effective exercises in his video below. You’ll be feeling more limber in no time.
Direct Access PT at AdventHealth
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or marathon runner, AdventHealth Sports Med and Rehab can get you back on your feet quickly. To ensure quality care, our direct-access physical therapists undergo additional training and testing. In many cases, you don’t need a referral to see a physical therapist. Please call us at Call407-303-8080 to verify if your insurance is accepted for direct access.
At AdventHealth, we’re all about you keeping your body, mind and spirit functioning optimally as a whole system. Learn more and reach out today to start your journey toward healing.