With the great weather lately, it’s no surprise we’re seeing more and more runners out working on building their mileage! Many of the common faults we see during our in-depth running form analysis relate back to a lack of lateral hip strength (the muscles on the side of your hips). These running faults not only rob your performance but tend to pop up with our runners complaining of hip, knee, shin, low back, or ankle pain. In this article, we’ll cover a few exercises targeted towards building your strength in the muscles around your hips. With increased strength and specific drills, we can expect to see this carry over to your running performance as well!
Special thanks to Lisa of runCLTrun for demonstrating several of these drills!
1: Lateral Taps
With a soft bend in your knee, focus on keeping your weight on your stance leg as you gently tap the opposite toe outward. Keep driving your stance leg knee out into the band and focus on keeping your hips level and torso from swaying. Keep tapping until you feel the side of your hips start to get a good burn!
2: Single Leg Squat With Abduction
Here you will focus on a lot of the same key points from above, except now maintain these all while bringing your non-stance leg up and away from your body. Again, keep driving your knee outward, hips and torso level, and continue until the side of your hip is on fire.
3: Side Plank
The side plank combines strengthening the side of your hip along with your core. Both of these muscle groups support a strong foundation for running. The key to this exercise is maintaining a straight line with your body so that if someone were looking at you from the front or the side, your head to your feet would be as straight as possible. Be sure to not allow your hips to drop too low or arch too high. If this position is too challenging, you can modify by dropping to a bent knee position while still focusing on the same points of performance.
4: Hip Thrusts
While strengthening the muscles on the side of the hip is an absolute must for runners, we can’t forget about the backside of the hip as well. This progression begins with using both legs to drive your hips up. The challenge can be increased by using both legs up and then shifting to use a single leg to control the descent, and challenged even further by using only one leg for both the rise and descent.
5: Heavy Farmer’s Carry
By loading up a farmer’s carry with some weight, we can challenge the hip muscles’ strength and control while in a single leg stance. This is exactly what you need for running! Similar to our previous exercises, we want to try to keep our hips and shoulders as level during the movement.
Curious what’s been holding back your own running performance or tired of dealing with the same injury every race season? Check out our running evaluation and start planning for your next PR!