Strong hips are the secret to a healthy runner. Every runner should be doing some form of strength training for their hips. It's our source of power. If we are weak in our power spot, that means injury will come knocking sooner or later. It may not ultimately be your hip that's in pain—it could be anywhere down the kinetic chain—but weak hips can cause IT band syndrome, patellofemoral syndrome and even Achilles tendinitis.
You may be wondering how having a weak hip can cause foot pain? The hip muscles are what control the whole movement of the leg, whether it be in running, walking or cycling. It throws off the gait/biomechanics of your stride.
These six hip strengthening exercises are for runners but are also really great for any sport or person. Simple and effective, they are the base of any hip strengthening program.
- Step on a band with your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Hold an end of the band in each hand.
- To begin, take short steps forward, keeping a slight bend in your knee and alternating your left and right foot while keeping the band tight at all times.
- After 20 steps forward, do the opposite and walk backward to where you started.
Standing Hip Flexor
- Put your right foot in the resistance band and turn so you are facing away from the band's anchor (wrap it around a table leg or other sturdy object).
- Keeping your right leg straight, lift it forward to a count of two, then release it back down to a count of two.
- After 20 reps, repeat on the other leg.
Standing Hip Abductor
- Anchor a resistance band to a stable object.
- Loop the other end around your right foot so the band crosses in front of you.
- Standing with your left leg slightly behind you, keep your right leg straight and lift it out to the side. Lift it to a count of two, then release it back down to a count of two.
- Repeat on the other leg. Complete for a total of 20 reps on each side.
Clamshell (with or without resistance band)
- Lie on your left side on the floor with your hips and knees bent 45 degrees.
- Your right leg should be on top of your left leg with your heels together.
- Keep your feet in contact with each other and raise your right knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis.
- Don't allow your left leg to move off the floor.
- Return to the starting position and repeat for 20 reps before switching sides.
Lateral Leg Raise
- Lie on your right side with your legs extended and stacked atop one another. Your head can be supported with your hand.
- Engage your left glute muscles and slowly lift up your leg, keeping your foot in a neutral position.
- Lower your leg to the starting position and repeat for 20 reps, then switch sides.
Bridge With Resistance Band
- Wrap a resistance band above your knees.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent then place your feet hip width apart.
- The elastic band should be tight and provide resistance to your legs and glutes.
- Push your hips up from the floor without arching your back. Hold for five seconds then slowly lower your spine back down on the floor one vertebra at a time.
- Repeat for 20 reps.
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