Running like any physical activity, relies on the coordination of a multitude of muscles working together to help propel us forward.
An essential component in this process is having optimal strength, control and stability in the hips. So if you ever feel like your running technique isn’t as efficient as it could be or you’re always prone to injuries or niggles, one of the key factors that may be contributing to your issues could be a lack of strength and control in your hips.
Here, we'll be talking about ways you can strengthen your hips and as a result improve your running technique and stay injury free!
Let’s first have a look at the anatomy of the hip. The hip is a ball and socket joint that relies on two key muscles to provide it with strength and stability during running; the glute maximus and glute medius.
The glute max provides use with the strength we need to propel ourselves forward and the glute medius is very important in keeping our hip joint centred in the socket during running.
Unfortunately, due to our more sedentary lifestyles these muscles tend to be underutilised and become very weak leading to poor hip biomechanics, which makes our running more inefficient and our bodies at more risk of injury.
Most people are familiar with exercises to strengthen the glute max (squats, lunges and bridges to name a few), but few people are aware of how to strengthen the glute medius and how critical it is in providing stability at the hip. I commonly refer to the glute med as the ‘core of the hip’, due to its crucial importance in providing stability at the hip during tasks such as running and walking.
Below I have listed 4 exercises that have been found to be the most effective in activating and strengthening the glute medius.
Position yourself lying on your side with your knees and hips bent and your feet together. Keeping your knees together practice lifting your top knee towards the sky whilst keeping your feet together. Repeat 10-15 times with each leg. This is often a good way to get started with activating your glute med.
2. Standing Wall Press:
Position yourself standing adjacent to a wall. Lift the leg that is closest to the wall and push it against the wall placing something soft between your knee and the wall. Practice performing mini squats whilst squeezing your lifted leg against the wall. Note that this exercise will strengthen the glute med on the standing leg. Repeat 10-15 times with each leg. This exercise activates the glute med in a standing position.
3. Single leg squat:
Position yourself sitting in a chair (begin on a higher chair and try to progressively lower the height of the chair). Practice standing up from the chair whilst only standing on one leg. Repeat 8-12 times with each leg. This exercise is a good progression from the wall press exercise and also gets the glute max firing.
4. Sideways walking with a band or crab walk:
Position yourself standing with your feet hip width apart and tie a band (ideally an elastic one around the lower portion of your shin. Lower yourself into a mini-squat position and practice walking sideways ensuring that your toes point straight ahead as you do so. Complete 15 steps in each direction. This is a good way to strengthen your glute med whilst moving.
So why not add these exercises to your running routine and reap the benefits of a more efficient running style!
If you are not sure if these exercises are right for you or you would like to get a more comprehensive assessment or advice regarding your running technique do not hesitate to contact the team at RedoHealth.