Let's be real. Does anyone *actually* want to do anything after a run but drink chocolate milk and shower with the goal of depleting the hot water tank of all its contents?
I sure don't. So I need the biggest bang for my buck.
Although more research is needed, articles have linked impaired hip strength to occurrence of some of the most common running injuries, including patellofemoral stress syndrome (aka pain around the knee cap) and shin pain. Increased ground force reaction (GFR), or how hard you strike the ground while running, has been shown to increase injury risk as well. Guess what? Improved strength --> improved mechanics --> reduced GFR --> reduced injury rate!
So, lets get to the nitty gritty. Here are three big-bang-for-your-buck strength exercises to add to your routine.
... in addition to foam rolling, of course.
#1 SINGLE LEG ROMANIAN DEAD LIFT (RDL)
Stand on one leg, slight bend in the knee. Keeping your opposite side in a straight line from head to toe SLOWLY rotate forward from hip. Get power from your glut muscles and SLOWLY return to standing, maintaining a straight line and not overly bending at the knee. This is NOT a single leg squat. You should feel your stance leg glute working hard. Try to NOT touch the opposite foot between reps. This is a strength and balance exercise.
*add a dumbbell for extra difficulty.
#2 CLAM SIDE PLANK
Begin in a knee side plank position with head, hips and knees in a straight line. Push your hips forward slightly to ensure you are not unconsciously bent at the hips. Do not feel as if you are hinging from the back or in a slight "sitting" position at the hips. Once in proper position, rotate the top knee upward. Do not force the last of your mobility, as athletes often lose form trying to attain higher range. This exercise will target your top hip's rotators and bottom hip's abductors as well as give you some bonus (!) core work.
*add a band around your knees for extra difficulty.
#3 RUNNER WOMAN/MAN
Think single-leg squat meets single-leg RDL meets running in place. Again, focus on attaining power from your glutes. Start in standing single leg running position, reach back with opposite foot until you are in a straight line from foot to head with a bend in the knee. ONLY TAP toe before returning to original position. Goal is to keep single leg stability throughout. Do not work too fast, the more time the muscle has to control the movement, the larger benefit you will get from the exercise.
*place a pillow under foot (or BOSU!) for extra difficulty.
Perform these at least 2-3 times a week (3-4 would be best!), 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps to target muscular endurance - we want our hips to stay strong during the entire run, not just the first mile. If you plan to add them on at the end of the run, do it on a harder day, as your recovery days need to remain just that.
Do you have favorite preventative or strengthening exercises you absolutely love?? Please let me know - I'd love to try them out!
Have questions? Comment below, send a DM or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on twitter, instagram or Facebook.
1. Ferber R, Kendall KD, Farr L. Changes in knee biomechanics after a hip-abductor strengthening protocol for runners with patellofemoral pain syndrome. J Athl Train 2011;46(2):142-149.
2. Fredericson M, Cookingham CL, Chaudhari AM, et al. Hip abductor weakness in distance runners with iliotibial band syndrome. Clin J Sport Med 2000;10(3):169-175.
3. Dierks TA, Manal KT, Hamill J, Davis IS. Proximal and distal influences on hip and knee kinematics in runners with patellofemoral pain during a prolonged run. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2008;38(8):448-456.
4. Davis IS, Bowser BJ, Mullineaux DRGreater vertical impact loading in female runners with medically diagnosed injuries: a prospective investigationBr J Sports Med 2016;50:887-892.