Strong hips are essential for good running form and longevity.
The hip joint is located in the upper leg, where the bone connects with the pelvis. It’s the largest ball and socket joint in the body, and it plays a crucial role in many day-to-day activities. Each time we sit down, go up a flight of stairs or simply bend down to pick something up, it involves our hip joint. For runners, strong, healthy hips are vital to maintain a steady posture. However, it’s common to overuse this joint, and females in particular are more prone to this type of injury.
According to Berkeley Wellness, women tend to have a wider pelvis than men, and their thighbones angle in sharply. This is often referred to as “The Q Angle.” This type of angle can have an impact on women because it puts more stress on their knees, leading to less stability. This can often result in an imbalance between the alignment of the hips and quadriceps.
It’s easy for one muscle or joint to impact the others; however there’s a plethora of other reasons for hip injuries. Core stability and strengthening exercises are two essential elements for healthy hips—below are some exercises to aid the cause:
Clam Exercise: Lie on your side with your hips and shoulders in a straight line. Bend hips to a 45-degree angle and your knees to 90 degrees. Make sure one hip is above the other. Move the upper leg while keeping your feet in contact with one another. It’s important to move the leg as far as you can without disturbing the alignment of the hip. Repeat this exercise 5 to 10 times on both sides. You should feel the muscles in the back of the hipbone.
Hip Abduction Side: Lie on your side with one arm bent and resting underneath your head. Your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders should all be lined up. Slowly raise the upper leg so that it is no longer touching the other leg. Hold this position for a couple of seconds before bringing the leg back down. Repeat this 10-15 times on both sides.
Kneeling Hip Flexor: Get into a lunge position with one knee placed on the floor. Make sure your foot is positioned beyond the forward knee. Straighten the hip of the rear leg by pushing your hips forward. Hold it there for 5-10 seconds then repeat 8-10 times on each side.
Bridging: Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Slowly lift your bottom pushing through your feet, until your knees, hips and shoulders form a straight line. Make sure you tighten your glute muscles when performing this. Hold this for 3-5 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Hip Flexion: Begin this exercise standing at either a chair or a table. Slowly lift your knee up as high as it can go. Make sure you keep your back straight and tighten the muscles at the front of your hip (your hip flexors.) Hold this position for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 10 times on both legs.