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Ever feel like your running technique isn’t as efficient as it could be? Or you’re always prone to injuries or niggles in your knee, hip or back? Well, one of the key factors that may be stopping you from having an efficient running style is a lack of strength and control in your hips. In this article I’ll be talking about ways you can strengthen your hips, improve your running technique and stay injury free!
Let’s first have a look at the anatomy of the hip, the hip is a ball and socket joint that relies on two main muscles to provide it with stability, glute max and glute med. They are both important in keeping your hip joint centred during activities such as walking, climbing stairs and running. Unfortunately, due to our more sedentary and ‘chair laden’ lifestyles these muscles tend to be inhibited and become very weak leading to poor hip biomechanics, making our running more ineffective and our bodies more at risk of injury.
Now most people know about the glute max and how to strengthen it (squats, lunges and bridges to name a few), but few people are aware of the importance of strengthening the glute med and how critical it is in providing stability at the hip. I commonly refer to the glute med as the ‘core of the hip’, due to its crucial importance in providing stability at the hip during tasks such as running and walking.
Below I have listed 4 exercises that have been found to be the most effective in activating and strengthening the glute med.
1. Clam: Position yourself lying on your side with your knees and hips bent and your feet together. Keeping your knees together practice lifting your top knee towards the sky whilst keeping your feet together. Repeat 15-20 times with each leg. This is often a good way to get started with activating your glute med.
2. Standing Wall Press: Position yourself standing adjacent to a wall. Lift the leg that is closest to the wall and push it against the wall placing something soft between your knee and the wall. Practice performing mini squats whilst squeezing your lifted leg against the wall. Note that this exercise will strengthen the glute med on the standing leg. Repeat 10-15 times with each leg. This exercise activates the glute med in a standing position.
3. Single leg squat: Position yourself sitting in a chair (the lower the chair the more work it will be will be for your glutes). Practice standing up from the chair whilst only standing on one leg. Repeat 8-12 times with each leg. This exercise is a good progression from the wall press exercise.