Introduction to the hip muscles used when running and how to strengthen them
The best way to reduce the toll and huge forces applied to the body when running, is to focus on your form, particularly the way you use your hips and the muscle groups that support them. Let’s take a look at why maintaining your hip strength is important, which muscles to focus on and how to strengthen them.
Your hips connect a range of muscles that move in concert to help you run. If any of these muscles are under performing or are not being utilised, your running form will be weaker and you may cause injury over time.
The gluteus maximus (the main, large buttock muscle) can sometimes be underactive, which can lead to compromised stride length and inhibited gait. The gluteus medius controls the sideways tilting of the pelvis, which if weak, can cause the dreaded runner’s ‘hip drop’. As the gluteus medius is responsible for helping the leg move away from the body, if it is weak, the other leg must overcompensate by bending further at the knee to complete the stride.
There are a couple of quick and simple exercises you can look into to strengthen your hip muscles. These are exercises that work in isolation to focus solely on developing strength in weakened muscles. Functional training can come later once strength has returned. Check with your health professional to see which ones you’ll gain the most benefit from.
Side lying hip abduction – Lie on your side with hips aligned and head supported. Lift your top most leg into the air, keeping your core stable and knee slightly bent. Lift, hold for 2 seconds and release slowly. Do 10-20 reps on each side.
Single leg squat – Stabilise your weight on one foot. Bend your knee and sink backwards into a squat, lifting your other leg off the ground in a forward motion. This may be difficult to begin with, use supports if required. Do 10-20 reps for each leg.
Try out these exercises as a starting point to strengthen your hips, and help avoid potential running injuries in the future.
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site
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