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  • V. Chang

Runner's Tip: Strengthen your hips!

The fall season is fast approaching; it's also time for marathon running. I agree the cooler temperatures are much more easier for long-distance running, compared to the humid and scorching summer days.

Imagine this: Your Achilles tendon hurt, then the pain travels to your knees, and gets to your hamstrings. What's the problem? It's probably the shoes. Right?

Let's take this further.

When the foot pronates, the lower leg rolls inward, as a result the upper leg also rolls inward. When the foot hits the ground, the foot will rotate inward in response to the impact of the force.

For the upper leg to also roll inward, the stabilization muscles of the hip must be strong; as if the muscles are weak, the upper leg cannot rotate.

Since the weak muscles prevent the upper leg to rotate with the lower leg, it causes patellofemoral syndrome, also called runner's knee.

As a solution, high-stability orthotics and shoes are prescribed to prevent excessive pronation and provide relief to the knee. But for some, if they have weak hips, the pain will still persist even with the proper foot support.

Strength Test - want to know whether your hips strength needs improvement? Perform a single-leg squat!

Start with a regular squat, have your back straight and lower yourself into a sitting position (like you are on a toilet). Squat onto one leg and place your other feet behind your standing leg. From the front, imagine a line going from the hip to the knee and to the toes. Note to not tilt your hips forward as you perform the squat.

If you are unable to maintain the straight line, it's indicating that you need to strengthen your hips.

How to build your hip strength! Building hip strength requires strengthening your hip adductors and abductors, tensor fasciae latae, hip flexors, gluteus medius and piriformis. Perform at least 10 repetitions of the following exercises:

1. Bridge - lie flat on your back with your knees bent, lift up your hips slowly. Imagine you are aligned from your shoulder, through your hips and to the knees. Hold for a few seconds and slowly lower your hips to the ground.

2. Leg raise - similar position as a bridge with your knee bent while lying on your back. Straighten one leg and raise it up to a 45-degree angle with your toes pointed towards the ceiling. Lower slowly and repeat 10 times per each leg.

3. Hip extension - lie on your stomach with legs straight, lift one leg and hold. Repeat.

4. Hip abduction - lie on your right side with legs straight and right arm extended. Lift up your left leg about 30 centimetres off the ground and hold the position. Slowly lower and repeat 10 times for each side.

5. Standing hip abduction - standing with your left hand rested on a chair for support and right on your hip, lift your right leg to the side while keeping it straight and hold. Repeat 10 times for each side.

6. Hip flexion - similar position as a standing hip abduction, lift your right leg forward with your knees bent at a 90-degree to the torso.

If you are up for more challenging exercises:

7. Standing lunge - with hands on your pelvis, take a big step forward and lower yourself so your front leg is bent at a right angle. Note to have your toes and knee are aligned. Slowly raise your body up, step back to initial position, and repeat for your other leg. Repeat for a total of 20 times.

8. Single-leg bridging - similar to a regular bridge, lie down with back to the ground. Have one leg bent and the other straight, raise your hips and form a straight line from shoulder to knee. Hold, lower and repeat 10 times per side.

If you have any concerns or issues, you can call us today for an appointment!

Happy running!


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