Hips play a significant role in stabilizing each leg in the phase of running. To maintain the stability in the running gait, increasing the strength in that area is of utmost importance. This article discusses about some of the best hip strengthening exercises for runners.
7 Hip Strengthening Exercises for Runners
Strength training exercises are good for improving performance and preventing injury. The weakness of the gluteal region can disrupt proper stability, cause excess movements, leading to injuries and hindered running performances. The hips muscles are the powerful hip stabilizers, which also control the mechanics of the lower body, especially the knee. This means with weak abductors, the entire knee region is at a high risk of injury. Hip strengthening exercises for runners adds more support and stability to the movement of the feet, ankles and knees, hence they are important.
Some of the most effective hip strengthening exercises for runners are given here.
#1. Glutes Bridges
Glutes bridges are an important hip strengthening exercises for runners that also help to strengthen the back.
Lie on your back and place the arms by the side. Keep the knees bent and place the feet flat on the floor. Raise the abdomen off the ground to form a straight line from the shoulder to the knees as if forming a bridge. Press the knees onto the ground. Hold in this position for 2 seconds and the lower the body down and again repeat the same.
#2. Single-leg Bridge
This is one of the popular hip strengthening exercises for runners and is a step ahead of bridging exercise.
Lie on the back with both the knees bent and the feet placed flat on the floor. The arms should be pressed against the floor by the side. Next, lift the hip up, engage the thighs and squeeze the glutes. Raise the right leg up in the air, keep it straight. Flex the foot, and extend it while raising the lower back and butt. Raise the hip as high as possible by engaging the abs and pressing down through the left heel.
#3. Donkey Kicks
This too is one of the best hip strengthening exercises for runners as it tones up the glutes and improves hip and leg strength.
Get on your hands and knees, with hands under the shoulder and knees under the hips. Lift your leg behind, bringing it parallel to the floor and also draw in the abs during this process. Keep the knee bent and foot flexed. The thigh is in line with your back and the bottom of the foot is facing up. Hold in the position and raise the flexed foot towards the ceiling. You should see the core especially the glutes engaged in the motion. Bring the leg down and repeat with the left leg.
#4. Side Leg Lifts
This hip strengthening exercises for runners is also great to stabilize the knees and strengthen the leg muscles.
Lie on your right side, with the legs straight and stacked over one another. Rest the head on the top of the right arm and the left arm on the hip or on the ground to balance the body. Lift the leg straight up as far as possible, as comfortable and then lower it back down. Repeat with the other side of the body.
#5. Body Weight Squats
Squats are a great form of exercise and very essential hip strengthening exercise for runners.
Stand with the arms straight and body straight. Stand with legs apart and angled outward. Lower the backside down to the ground as you do when you sit. Lower down the body until the quads are parallel to the ground. Stand up and repeat. For those who are still not comfortable with this, they can perform half-squats, in which the hips are only slightly lowered as if sitting on a chair and then back to the original position.
#6. Single Leg Squats
One of the other effective hip strengthening exercises for runners include the single leg squats. It also helps to improve balance and body weight shifting mechanism, which helps runners to a great extent.
Stand straight with the arms extended in front of the body and the feet wider than the shoulder width. Lift up the right foot and extend it straight in front of the body. Squat down as much as possible balance with the left leg, keeping the knee and the foot aligned. Bring back the body to normal position and repeat with the opposite leg.
Clamshells are one of the simple hip strengthening exercises for runners, which help to open-up the hips and relieve the tensed muscles.
Lie down on the right side with the knees bent on top of each other. Rest the right arm underneath the head. Open the clamshell by lifting the top knee keeping the feet together. In this process, the hips will rotate and the pelvis and the core should remain stable. Close the clamshell and repeat by switching the sides.
While these are some of the best hip strengthening exercises for runners, there may be individual variations to these exercises, based on individual fitness and requirements. The number of repetitions and the duration of performing these exercises is best performed with expert advice. However, beginning with performing one set of ten repetitions, you can gradually move on to performing two or three sets, if comfortable.