Hip Strengthening and Mobility Exercises for Runners
It starts with lack of strength training and mobility exercises, poor running mechanics, overuse, and sitting for long periods of time. These eight exercises will help loosen the hip flexors, and strengthen the surrounding stabilizing muscles. Finding the time to execute these exercises can save you from time off due to injury.
Why Runners Need Stronger Hips
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Hip strengthening and mobility exercises should be a part of your routine, whether you're dealing with an injury or not.
Basic exercises like the clamshell and side step are very effective and should be done two to three times a week. The more advanced exercises like the TRX lunge and the single-leg deadlift are great for building balance, and will help detect any imbalances in your legs.
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Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent and legs and ankles together. You can rest your head on an outstretched arm during the exercise. Then open and close your knees like a clam.
Keep your feet together throughout the movement and move slowly to work all of the muscles the exercise involves.
Complete three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps on each side. You can use a resistance band for this exercise, but it's optional.
Equipment Needed: Resistance Band 3 of 10
Take a resistance band and, keeping it flat, place it just above each ankle. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart while bending your knees slightly into a half-squat position. Maintain the half-squat position, than take a lateral step (sideways).
Take 8 to 10 steps in the same direction; be sure to keep your hips level throughout the exercise. Complete three to four sets on each side.
Equipment Needed: Dumbbells or Kettlebells 4 of 10
Hold kettlebells or dumbbells in each hand. Put the kettlebells down in front of your upper thighs with arms straight.
Lower the kettlebells to the floor, while raising your trail leg behind you. Keep your back rigid, with the knee of supporting leg slightly bent. When the kettlebells touch the floor or a stretch is felt, return to the starting position.
Complete three to five sets of 5 to 12 reps on each leg.
Equipment Needed: TRX 5 of 10
Set the TRX suspension system so the handles hang down to your calves. Place your right foot in the straps, with your shoelaces pointed to the floor. Step out with your left foot in front of you.
Squat down with your left knee, keep your shin vertical, your knee over your toes, and maintain a tight core. Stand back up and repeat for 8 to 12 reps.
To progress, hold dumbbells in both hands to add resistance. Complete three to five sets on each side.
Deep Psoas Massage
Equipment Needed: Lacrosse Ball 6 of 10
While prone on the floor, place a lacrosse ball one to two inches to the right or left side of your belly button. Put your forearms on the floor for support; this will look like a plank. Roll the lacrosse ball down towards your femur using small movements.
The psoas accelerates hip flexion and decreases hip extension. It is the most powerful hip flexor in the body, and is used in every running stride. It is often overactive in runners and people who sit at their jobs.
Quad/Adductor Foam Roll
Equipment Needed: Foam Roller 7 of 10
Lie prone on the floor. Place a foam roller perpendicular to your leg to target the quads.
Roll from the top of your quad to just above your knee. For the adductors, the only change is to place the foam roller parallel to your leg and to keep a slight bend in the knee of the leg you're rolling. Use your forearms for support by placing them on the floor.
Overactive adductors can be one of the causes of your knees moving inward toward the midline of the body during movement (also known as knock knee).
TFL/IT Band Foam Roll
Equipment Needed: Foam Roller 8 of 10
Lie on your right side, and place the foam roller in a perpendicular position under your hip. Use your hands or forearms as support, cross your left leg over your right leg, and put your left foot flat on the floor.
Roll from your hip down to just above your knee.
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Equipment needed: Box or bench 9 of 10
Kneel on left knee, with your lower leg and foot against a box or bench. Put your right foot flat on the floor out in front of you. Keep your right knee aligned with your foot.
Drive hips forward until you feel a stretch in your left quad. Activate your glutes and core while holding the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes.