These 7 hip exercises can help with injury prevention and better running efficiency

·4-min read

As runners, we spend a lot of our time in the gym strengthening our lower bodies. And while it’s easy to remember to work large muscle groups such as your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, we often forget that our hips are equally as important.

'A strong lumbo-pelvic-hip complex is a crucial part of an athlete’s ability to dynamically stabilise and produce force,' Yusuf Jeffers, a NASM-certified personal trainer and USATF-certified running coach, tells Runner’s World. 'A weak lumbo-pelvic-hip complex is a fundamental problem inherent to inefficient movement that may lead to predictable patterns of injury.'

That’s why Jeffers created a hip workout circuit specifically designed with runners in mind. The exercises he included build unilateral stability and strength, and 'closely resembles the way in which our bodies work while running,' he says.

How to do it: Perform each exercise for 1 minute total (30 seconds per leg where applicable). Complete 2 to 4 rounds of this 7-move circuit, resting 2 minutes after completing each round. Each move is demonstrated by Jeffers in the video above so you can learn proper form.

Hip controlled articular rotation

Start on all fours, knees under hips and shoulders over wrists. Keep your belly button drawn in toward your spine, back flat, and your left leg bent at 90 degrees. Lift your left leg out to your left side, keeping it bent and stopping at hip height. Then, lift left leg back and up like you’re doing a donkey kick. Circle left hip inward to come back to starting position. Repeat this motion of “out, up, and back” for 30 seconds, then repeat on other leg for 30 more seconds.

Hip raise with lateral leg lift

Start on your side with your right forearm on the ground, forming a straight line from your head to your feet, feet stacked on top of each other. Bend the bottom leg and keep the knee in contact with the floor, lessening the load. Engage your core and slowly raise your hips, then lift top (left) leg. Return top (left) leg to ground, then lower hips back to ground. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides and perform the movement for 30 more seconds.

Over-under hurdle walk

Start standing with feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Moving toward the right, drive right knee up and over an imaginary hurdle, then drive left knee up and over the same imaginary hurdle. Next, take a big step to the right, squatting to crouch under an imaginary hurdle. Repeat the sequence (going over and under an imaginary hurdle) moving toward the left. Repeat for 1 minute total, alternating between the left and right legs/sides.

Seated leg lift

Start sitting on the ground, both legs extended straight out on the ground, arms bent at 90 degrees with hands in fists in front of your stomach. Place a yoga block to the left of your left leg. Keeping left leg straight, lift it up off the ground and over the yoga block, tapping heel on the ground each time you lift your leg up and over. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch legs (moving the yoga block to the right of your right leg) and perform the movement for 30 more seconds.

Note: If you don’t have a yoga block, you can use any household item that’s roughly the same size, such as a reusable water bottle, a laundry detergent bottle, a stack of books, etc.

Single-leg glute bridge with leg lift

Lie faceup, left knee bent and right leg extended straight out on the ground. Lift right leg up toward the ceiling but keep both knees aligned. At the same time, engage glutes as you lift hips up, driving through left heel. While keeping glutes lifted off the ground, lower right leg down to ground. Continue to lift and lower right leg for 30 seconds, then switch legs and perform the movement for 30 more seconds.

Single-leg glute bridge

Lie faceup, knees bent, feet planted, arms down by sides on the floor. Lift left leg up toward the ceiling but keep both knees aligned. Engage glutes as you lift hips up, driving through right heel. Lower back to the floor and repeat for 30 seconds, then switch legs and perform the movement for 30 more seconds.

Standing hip hinge with rotation

Start standing with feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips. Lift left foot a few inches off the ground, then hinge forward at hips, shifting left leg backward into the air. Rotate torso to the right, then to the left. Continue rotating torso to each side for 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side for 30 more seconds.

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