It’s all in the hips my friends. I know you’ve heard that it’s all about the base, and there is no doubt that having a strong base before building miles is essential, but if your hips are weak you will end up injured once your body reaches its threshold.
What types of injuries am I talking about? Shin splints, IT band issues, and runner’s knee for starters, and these can lead to additional problems if you don’t address them including stress fractures.
Your hips are a part of your core, but most people focus on the abs when doing core exercises and leave out their hips entirely. So what do I mean by hips?
Vastus Lateralis muscle: this connects the side of your thigh to your knee and then runs down the front of your leg attaching to tendons at the knee, which attach to tendons on the tibia.
Satorius Muscle: this is the longest muscle in the body. It goes from the outside of your hip down to your knee and attaches to your tibia. It helps with hip rotation, and flexing. It also helps with knee flexing.
Iliopsoas muscle this is actually two muscles but they work together. They are your major hip flexors. You can’t run without them, or walk. They help you sit up while lying on your back too. They also control hip rotation in order to keep the knee aligned properly.
The Pectineus and Adductor Longus muscles (inside of your thigh at the hip) help pull the hip toward the center of your body and help flex).
Rectus Femoris is a part of a group of four muscles that make up your quadriceps. They are the primary extenders of the knee and connect to tendons at the knee and the tibia.
Gluteus medius and gluteus minimus these are on the outside of your hip and a little toward the back. They help with rotation of the hip away from the center.
I knot this may come as a surprise to some, but your body is all connected. When you have an injury at one point along the kinetic chain, it is most likely caused by a weakness in the muscles above and/or below the point of injury.
Just reading these very simple descriptions of these muscles (Disclosure: I’m not a medical doctor or a physical therapist) shows you all the connections between your hip, knee, and down to your ankle (by way of the tibia). If you have extra rotation in the hip, it tweeks your knee and tibia the wrong way. Basically, if your hips are not working properly, everything below the hip is screwed up too. This is why you need to strengthen your hips. If your hips are strong and stable (no extra rotation toward or away from the center) you are going to enjoy injury free running a lot longer and be at a lower risk for injuries.
How do you strengthen your hips? Here is a simple workout you can do three days a week it takes about twenty minute.
3 x 20 donkey kicks
3 x 20 fire hydrants
1:30 of clams holding up for five seconds then drop and come back up to hold for five seconds. Repeat for the full one minute thirty.
One minute single leg glute bridge (do each leg)
One minute bent leg plank, this is a single leg exercise. It’s done in the same position as a plank but one leg is bent underneath you and the other is up and extended no ground contact.
3 x 10 single leg squats
3 x 20 lateral leg extensions (this can be done standing with a band or lying down Jane Fonda Style)
3 x 10 squats