Hip and Core Strengthening for Runners


A handy guide from our friend Dr. Mike! You can do these exercises with or without Shammas on, but having your feet flat on the ground is important.

Gaining Hip and Core Stability to Improve Run Durability

Courtesy of Mike Prevost, PhD


In a previous article we discussed hip drop and its primary cause, hip and core weakness. In this article, we’ll discuss some simple exercises that you can do to improve hip stability. The weakness that we are trying to target is in two primary areas, the glutes, and the core. It is important to keep impeccable form throughout every set and repetition. We’ll start with the glutes.

The primary muscle we are trying to target is the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius is a hip abductor (Google it). During the run gait, when your foot contacts the ground, the gluteus medius on that side locks down the hip and prevents the opposite side hip from dropping excessively. If the gluteus medius does not have the strength to do this, you can get a whole host of biomechanical flaws like run cross over gait, kickstanding, over pronation, knee valgus and more. It is important to have plenty of gluteus medius strength.

The gluteus maximus also plays a role in stabilizing the hip and should also be trained. The following exercises should be done 2-3 times per week for 2-4 sets per side. Repetitions will vary depending on your strength. Perform reps in each set until you feel some muscular fatigue. Start with the beginner exercises and when you are comfortable with those, progress to the intermediate, then the advanced.


HIP EXERCISES:

Beginner:

Leg Abduction

Glute bridges

Bodyweight squats


Intermediate:

Side plank abduction

Backward step lunges

Two-legged jump rope (a “set” is a two-minute interval)


Advanced:

Single leg squats to bench (or chair, or box)

Lateral bounding

Single leg jump rope (one-minute sets)

Work all the core muscles with special emphasis on the obliques, which play a special role in stabilizing the hip by preventing hip drop, along with the gluteus medius. Again, follow the beginner, intermediate, advanced progression. Perform 2-4 sets. Perform repetitions until you feel some fatigue. For the static holds, hold them until you feel like you are going to break form.


CORE EXERCISES:

Beginner:

Front plank

Side plank (both sides)

Rear plank


Intermediate:

Front plank with alternating leg raise (hold leg raises for 5 seconds each, perform reps until fatigue)

Dynamic Side Plank

Rear plank with alternating leg raise (hold leg raises for 5 seconds each, perform reps until fatigue)


Advanced:

First move of the Turkish Getup

Cable chops

Windmill


Ideally these workouts should be done on 3 non-consecutive days of the week. Choose a level for the hip workout and a level for the core workout. You will not necessarily be on the same level for both. Progress to the next level when you are comfortable with the exercises. You can do these workouts before an easy run, after any run, or on non-run days.

Remember, addressing the strength deficit is only half the battle. You also must reprogram faulty gait patterns. In the next article, we’ll discuss a simple run technique drill to start to reprogram poor bio-mechanics caused by poor hip stabilization. Stay tuned.


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