Weak hips is often the cause for many runners suffering from foot, ankle and knee pain or injuries. Building your hip strength can help curb these injuries and it will also help boost your performance overall, as most of your running power is generated from the hips.
We look at how building stronger hips for runners is so important, yet it is too often overlooked. Stronger hips will better support the movement of the feet, ankles and knees, and doing hip mobility exercises after and even before your runs can help increases hip strength, mobility and stability.
You can check the health of your hips, in terms of mobility, in the following ways:
Hip Extension: Lay on your back at the edge of a bed. Pull one knee to your chest. If your other knee drops below your hip, then it’s a sign of good flexibility. If it pull ups above your hip then it’s a sign of poor flexibility. Your knee should remain bent at 90 degrees.
Internal Rotation: Lay on your stomach with your knee close together and bent to 90 degrees. Let your feet drop outwards. They should drop to around 45 degrees. You should keep your pelvis flat to the floor and your knees in line with your hips.
External Rotation: Sit with your ankle on your opposite knee. Sit with good posture and a neutral pelvis. Most runners will find a huge difference between their right and left sides when doing this. You would want to be fairly symmetrical and able to drop your knee parallel with the floor.
Three muscles are important for hip strength and aid with proper hip extension, internal and external rotation – the gluteus medius, the gluteus maximus, and the tensor fascia lata. The gluteus medius is the main abductor and external rotator of the hip, while the gluteus maximus extends the hip and assists with abduction and external rotation, and then the tensor fascia lata is an abductor of the hip, but because of its positioning, it can also contribute to internal rotation.
Therefore it’s important to do hip strength exercises which recruit the use of gluteus medius and maximus, while minimizing the recruitment of the tensor fascia lata.
Here are several hips strengthening exercises that you can do to help build hip abduction and external rotation strength: