The Best Hip Exercises to Improve Running Speed and Power
"Cleaning up the Hips"
Tim Brewster, MSPT, CSCS
Pro Trainer and Sports Physical Therapist
Train Boston Sports Center, Wellesley, MA
Runners want to run. They want to get faster, increase distance, and improve running endurance. But many runners don't have the proper muscular balance in their hips, both in regards to strength and flexibility....and this can lead to knee pain, hip pain, back pain, and decreased running performance.
When you run, by nature of the mechanics of running, you primarily activate the quadriceps, hip flexors, and calves. The result of the other hip muscles such as the hip rotators, extensors, and ad/adductors become relatively weak compared to them. Over time, the hips become out of balance and the body may experience a drop in running performance. Additionally, these imbalances can lead to poor biomechanics that many times lead to pain or injury.
Throughout the fall and winter, I will be doing a series that focuses on top training tips that can be done anywhere; at your training center, at home, or on the road. Owner and professional sports trainer / physical therapist at Train Boston Sports Center in Wellesley, metowests' premier sports training and physical therapy center, I want to help show you simple exercises that you can do in a few minutes can greatly improve your performance and decrease pain. A two-sport athlete in college, a member of the 1996 medical staff, former trainer for the New England Revolution, and current consultant to the New England Patriots, I offer a cutting-edge, progressive approach to sports performance and training.
Without going into too much biomechanical or orthopedic detail, to have healthy, powerful hips, it is crucial to have balanced hips, both in comparison from right to left as well as within each hip. I'm sure many of those reading this article have a significant imbalance in your hips. This is, of course, true for most athletes, with the exception of soccer athletes, which are one of the few groups of athletes that typically have the most balanced hips due to the bilateral dexterity they needs on the field. If there is too great an imbalance, it can lead to problems similar to your car having a front-end alignment issue. And anyone that has experienced this knows of the need to get this back in balance or you will begin wearing out one tire, or relative to your body, your hip.
So, as to not create to lengthy of an article and to give you specific, tangible exercises, you exercises should address the following:
1. Add Balance to your hips
2. Strengthen your hip abductors, rotators and extensors
3. Improve flexibility of your hamstrings and hip flexors
4. Maximize hip/knee/foot biomechanics
(I will address these exercises in the next article)
In all my articles, I will give you a quick, but extremely effective 2-3 minute rotation that you can easily incorporate pre-post exercise routine. I will attach a video of the exercise progression, so you can clearly and effectively, apply the exercises to your training progression. And as promised, you will need little to no equipment. In my next article, I will take you through a nice little running progression that will improve your functional running strength and biomechanics.
EQUIPMENT NEEDED: FOAM ROLLER & MINI BAND
Rotation 1: Foam Roller Exercises
We will take you through a quick 4-exercise foam roller sequence, that will work to decrease the tension in your hips, & IT-bands, while also lengthen your hamstrings and add healthy movement to the hip joint and hip rotators.
Video clip of the series is placed here.
Rotation 2: Mini-Band & Body Weight Exercises
Here, we take you through several drills in positions of both side-lying and prone. We have selected this position to exercise the hip, as it promotes the strengthening of the hip abductors and rotators, as well as inhibits excessive activity of the quads and IT-bands
Video clip of the series is placed here.
These exercises can be done in under 5 minutes and are extremely effective at helping "clean up the hips" for more balanced, powerful hips. I recommend you do 1-2 rounds of these exercises, before and/or after you run for the next 3-4 weeks. You should feel an immediate noticeable improvement in your hips and running performance. My next article will build on this series, with a greater focus on biomechanical and functional strength exercises to improve running performance.
Till then...enjoy your healthier hips and more of a "bounce" to that running stride. Train Hard * Train Smart * TRAIN Boston