The hips are a crucial part of your body, especially if you’re a runner. Having strong and flexible hips will help you prevent injuries while running. As a runner, your hips are your foundation as they’re made of many muscle groups. Therefore, keeping them strong and healthy is crucial for optimum running performance.
The Benefits of Hip-strengthening ExercisesHip-strengthening exercises are crucial because even a single weakness in the muscles can lead to pain while running. This will then lead to other injuries since other body muscles will work harder to stabilize the hip. Your hips are held in place by strong muscles and ligaments and are also a common site for problems like osteoarthritis. Weak and unhealthy hips can lead to issues like:
- Shin splints
- Low back pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Runner’s knee
Vital Hip-strengthening Exercise for RunnersTargeting your hip muscles will help increase your athletic performance, endurance, flexibility, and strength. So, here are some best hip-strengthening exercises to enhance your performance and prevent injuries.
BridgesBridges are excellent for hip strengthening because they are self-correcting, scalable, and work the glutes and the hips while strengthening the connection between the two muscles. There are some variations of bridges that you can do depending on your level of fitness. Every variation will challenge your hips differently, resulting in overall control as well as endurance.
Basic bridgeThe basic bridges allow you to exercise, feel your gluteus medius and hip, and work together with the gluteus maximus to elevate your hips. To prevent overextension, ensure that your back is in a neutral position. Bridge targets all the muscles in your back, including the hamstrings and the lower back muscles, which are all vital for optimum running. To do a basic bridge:
- Lay on a flat surface, bend your knees, and plant your feet firmly
- Put your hands at your sides or anywhere comfortable
- Squeeze your heels to the surface and elevate your hips, and engage your glutes by tightening your butt
- Don’t let your knee drift inwards or outwards
- Lower your hips and repeat the process
Donkey kicksDonkey kicks are excellent for toning and stability. They work the gluteus maximus, your shoulder, and other core muscles because your whole body must be stable when you run. This exercise is specifically beneficial since it helps stretch your hips in the reverse direction. It also allows you to build and strengthen a whole chain of muscles at the same time. To perform donkey kicks:
- Pick a flat surface and bend down on all fours ensuring your back is straight
- Whichever leg you want to start with, pick it and keep it bent at ninety degrees. Slightly elevate it without moving the other parts of your body
- While maintaining the chosen leg at 90 degrees, kick it back and up
- Lower the leg back and make sure it is slightly above the ground
- Repeat the process on each leg
SquatsSquats are an excellent hip-strengthening exercise as they target all the gluteal muscles. Squats work by mobilizing your hips, knees, and ankles, engaging your core, and building endurance in your hamstrings and quads. To perform squats:
- Take a wide stance and make sure that your spine is neutral, chest up, and shoulders back. Maintain your heels down and strongly plant them to increase stability.
- Stretch your arms and hold them in front of your chest
- Sit back just like you do in a chair
- Make sure that your knees are behind your toes
- Stand up and repeat
Side leg liftThe side leg lift exercise has two variations – lying down and standing up versions. This exercise entails pushing away and abducting the leg from the midline. The side leg lift is an excellent and effortless way to build endurance in your thighs and hip abductors. The exercise targets the gluteus medius to improve stability, hip motion, muscle endurance, and the use of less active muscles.
Standing leg liftThis is a very flexible exercise that you can do anywhere. To increase your stability, you can use a chair or something else to support yourself. Do standing leg lift by:
- Stretching your hands out and rest them on your hips and stand straight with your toes facing in
- Lift one leg, breath in, and shift the lifted legs weight into the other one
- As you breathe out, lower the leg
- Repeat this at least ten times, then switch to the other side
Lying leg liftsIf your hips are stiff, consider lying on a mat for additional support.
- Lie down on your left side on a mat and ensure that your body is in a straight line and your legs are stretched out and placed against each other
- Put your arm on the floor or beneath your head to support it while letting the other rest on your hip
- As you breathe out, lift your right leg. Remember to always halt when you feel your muscles flexing in your obliques
- Breathe in and lower the right leg to meet the left one
- Repeat this step at least ten times and switch to the other leg.