Today, running is more popular than ever, whether as a means to de-stress, stay physically fit, compete or just look good naked. It is more popular than ever. Running has always been the choice of the masses for getting their figure back, but more attention is being placed on one’s routine than ever before and most of that attention is being paid to injury prevention.
More specifically, the industry has focused largely on both foot strike and footwear as major causes of running ailments. It turns out, however, that there’s another culprit that runners often overlook: hip weakness.
As we have seen in the past, hip strength is essential for a runner to maintain power and health. The hip muscles control the mechanics of your knee, so if you have insufficient hip abduction and external rotation strength, your knee is at a higher risk of injury from patellofemoral pain syndrome and iliotibial (IT) band syndrome.
Additionally, insufficient hip strength has been linked to a host of other running injuries, though less definitively. So, we must ask the question…Which exercises are the best for strengthening the hip muscles?
When utilizing mobility bands, there are a wide variety of hip exercises to choose from, ranging from simple ones, like leg lifts, to complicated side-stepping and squatting variations.
Recent research on hip strengthening exercises has shown a direct link between hip weakness and these three muscles — the gluteus medius, the gluteus maximus, and the tensor fascia lata (TFL).
These three muscles are of interest because they have distinct and significant roles.
● The gluteus medius is the main abductor and external rotator of the hip
● The gluteus maximus extends the hip and assists with abduction and external rotation
● The TFL is an abductor of the hip, but because of its positioning, it can also contribute to internal rotation
Hip weakness has become prevalent as a result of the sitting we do in our daily lives. When you consider how important proper hip strength is for runners and the fact that most runners don’t do the specific strength exercises that bolster the hip muscles, it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
Indeed, there is plenty of research to back up the contention that sitting leads to weak hips, which can ultimately lead to injuries. When the hip over-rotates and collapses inwards during the gait cycle, iliotibial band syndrome often results.
While sitting can cause injuries through underuse of the hips, there is an association between overuse injuries in the lower extremities and poor strength in the muscles around the hip region, including the hip abductor, adductor and flexor.
Either way, these injuries could be avoided if more attention was placed on hip strengthening exercises. So, here are the top 4 hip strengthening exercises for runners: