One of the most important parts of your body, especially for runners is the hips and it’s most often the most neglected. I fully attribute my back issues to a misalignment and/or lack of strength in my hips. A few years ago, I had to take some time off from running, which really sucked! Back story, I trained and ran two marathons in a ten month span, all without properly strengthening my hips. Really, really bad idea! Don’t follow in my footsteps! Even though I am very active and a trainer, many times, the trainer needs a trainer, so I went to physical therapy and gained more knowledge on what I had done to myself and how to heal it. I learned more about the gluteus medius and pirifmoris, which aid in stabilizing the hip bones. I, obviously, had learned about these muscles in college, but we went a little more in depth. Plus once injury hits you, you are a little more invested into learning about the problem. So anyway, here are a few of my favorite hip strengthening exercises:
Lay on your side, back, butt and bottoms of your feet flat against a wall (this is important, because you don’t want your hips to move). Lift your top knee towards the ceiling, making sure that your hip does not open up. When starting out, don’t worry about your range of motion, that will come as you get stronger, the key to this exercise is slow, deliberate moves, while keeping the hips still. As you get stronger, you can add a band around your thighs to add resistance. You should feel a burning in your glutes, this is your gluteus medius (glute med) and your piriformis working. It sucks, but it’s totally worth it in the end! Do 2-3 sets of 20 reps. Make sure to repeat on each side, I probably shouldn’t have to say this, but I don’t want one of you coming back at me later and yelling at me 🙂
Side leg raise:
Same body position as the clamshells, this time with top leg straight out. Place your heel against the wall, point your toe down and lift your leg, keeping heel against the wall. You can make this one more fluid by taking your shoe off or placing a towel on your heel. Make sure your toe stays pointed down, which will close your hip, engaging your glute med and piriformis more. As with the clamshells, add a band if the exercise begins to get easier.
Traveling side squats:
Start with feet together, standing tall, as you would for a regular squat. Take a step to the right side and come down into a squat, as you rise, bring your left foot in to meet with your right. Continue to the right side for the length of the room. Then come back using your left leg first. I would highly recommend using a band for this, but it can always be done without anymore resistance. There are many variations of this exercise, so if you want to make it more challenging, you can do forward/backward traveling squats. In which you would bring your right foot forward on an angle, squat, then bring the left foot up to meet it. Then switch to the left side, bringing that foot up on an angle and so on until you are at the front of the room, and then you can walk it backwards in the same fashion.
The only problem with these is exercises is that I forget to do them, until I’m injured! It never fails, as soon as I start to feel better, I stop doing these and then I have to start from the beginning again, instead of just keeping up with these at least a few times a week. Ugh, I’ll learn one of these days!
Do you have those exercises that you just cannot keep in your routine, even though you know you need to? (Please tell me I’m not the only one!!)