Some decades back, weak hips wasn’t directly associated with running, but research has now indicated links between runner’s knee and weak hips. Apparently, it is a very important factor that determines the overall performance of a runner.
What does research say?
A particular study has shown results that women who developed runner’s knee had greater hip instability in their gait, while another says after a hard run; people with runner’s knee had a much greater short-term decline in hip strength than did runners without knee pain. It is common to suggest hip and core strengthening instead of the formerly default knee- and quad-strengthening program. However, it begs the question – what if someone already suffers from knee pain? Is hip strengthening still a feasible option?
Evidence exhibited by detailed studies
Researchers at four facilities in Canada and the United States recruited almost 200 people who had been suffering patellofemoral pain for at least four weeks, and whose symptoms appeared to stem from overuse rather than acute trauma. The subjects were divided into two groups; each group did a six-week rehab program, of up to three exercise sessions per week.One group’s program focused on strengthening knee and thigh muscles, while the other concentrated on building hip and core strength. During the six-week program, participants reported weekly on their level of knee pain.
After the six-week program 78.9 percent, reported that their knee pain had decreased and their level of functioning had increased. There was a difference, however, in when the groups started getting better. On average, the hip-strengthening group reported improvement after three weeks, while the knee-strengthening group reported improvement after four weeks. Moreover, the hip-strengthening group saw greater gains in hip and core strength too.
Exercises to strengthen hips for better running
By committing to a hip-strengthening regimen 2 to 3 times a week, you will increase the stability of that core region. Not only does that mean fewer injuries, but it can also translate into faster times in the long run.
Lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of one another. Lift your top leg to about 45 degrees and then lower it back down. Repeat 15 to 20 times per leg.
Get on all fours on the ground. Focusing on balance, lift your right arm and extend it straight out in front of your body. Simultaneously, lift your left leg and extend it out behind your body. Bring your extended arm and bent knee back to center under your body, and then extend them both out again. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.
Standing on one foot, drop the right side of your pelvis a few inches downwards while keeping the left side in a neutral position. Activate your left hip muscles and lift your right side back to the starting position. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.
Lie on your back with both legs bent and your feet flat on the ground. Lift your left leg off the ground and extend it while you raise your lower back and butt. Hold the position for two seconds and lower back downwards in a controlled manner. Repeat 10 to 15 times on each leg.
Get on all fours again, but this time you will only be lifting and extending your legs, keeping your hands on the ground. Instead of extending the leg backwards like you did during Bird Dogs, keep the knee slightly bent and kick upwards, with the bottom of your shoe facing the sky. Repeat 15 to 20 times on each side.
Advantages of having strong hips
Apart from helping to enhance your times as a runner, having powerful hip muscles have a myriad of benefits – take a look:
Better Functional Fitness
Depending on the situation, your hip abductors may serve as movers or as stabilizers. The primary hip abductor muscles are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fascia lata. Strong abductor muscles improve functional fitness and prepare your body to perform well in any situation.
The muscles in your abdomen, back, hips and shoulders are all part of the core and must work together for core stability. Abductor muscle exercises help enhance core stability, which improves balance, posture and overall movement.
When your abductor muscles are weak, chances of injuries are increased. The biomechanic changes caused by weak hip abductors increases forces and friction on your knees, ankles and feet. Proper exercises may help reduce the risk of lower extremity injuries.
Therefore, we can safely conclude that running and strong hip muscles do have a connection that can’t be neglected.
That is why; you should definitely include hip strengthening exercises as a part of your fitness regimen – it will have a positive impact on your running.