To determine whether you might have weakness in your hips, Johnson suggests a balance test. "If you can't balance yourself on firm, level ground, barefoot with your big toe pointed towards noon, you might be able to run injury-free for a while, but eventually it'll catch up to you," he says.
Fitzgerald has his athletes try a one-legged squat to determine hip strength. "You should be able to squat down so your femur is about parallel with the ground and your knee remains pointed straight ahead," he says. "If you're wobbling all over the place and your knee collapses inward, you have hip weakness."
How to Combat Weak Hips
By committing to a hip-strengthening regimen 2 to 3 times a week, you will increase the stability of that core region. Not only does that mean fewer injuries, but it can also translate into faster times in the long run.
Side Leg Raises: Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of one another. Lift your top leg to about 45 degrees and then lower it back down. Repeat 15 to 20 times per leg.
Bird Dog: Get on all fours on the ground. Focusing on balance, lift your right arm and extend it straight out in front of your body. Simultaneously, lift your left leg and extend it out behind your body. Bring your extended arm and bent knee back to center under your body, and then extend them both out again. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.
Hip Hikes: Standing on one foot, drop the right side of your pelvis a few inches downwards while keeping the left side in a neutral position. Activate your left hip muscles and lift your right side back to the starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.
Single-Leg Bridge: Lie on your back with both legs bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it while you raise your lower back and butt. Hold the position for two seconds and lower back downwards in a controlled manner. Repeat 10 to 15 times on each leg.
Donkey Kicks: Get on all fours again, but this time you will only be lifting and extending your legs, keeping your hands on the ground. Instead of extending the leg backwards like you did during Bird Dogs, keep the knee slightly bent and kick upwards, with the bottom of your shoe facing the sky. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.race.