Move Those Hips! By Adam Bean

Increase your hip range of motion and strength to become a better more efficient runner, while reducing your chance of injury.
The stretches and exercises below will help you improve your running form so that you can train harder and race faster in your next 5k, marathon, or triathlon.

THERE’S A SCHOOL OF THOUGHT that your stride is your stride, that you are genetically coded to run a certain way. But holding onto that philosophy may hold you back when it comes to your hips. “Most runners don’t extend their hips,” says Jay Dicharry, director of the SPEED clinic at the Center for Endurance Sport at the University of Virginia. Meaning that with each stride, your leg doesn’t extend back far enough behind you before it comes forward again. As a result, you lose propulsive power. Plus, having a limited range of motion can throw off your biomechanics all the way down your leg. Dicharry’s fix is a 10-minute program of hip-extension exercises, which he recommends doing in sequence, just before you run. “Based on the before-and-after testing we do in our clinic,” he says, “I believe 90 percent of runners will benefit from this training and become faster and less injury-prone.”

KNEELING HIP-FLEXOR STRETCH
Step into a lunge position, and lower your back knee to the ground. Keep your upper body straight while you tilt your pelvis forward. Hold for one minute, release, and repeat two more times. Then switch to the other leg.

KNEE-TO-CHEST BRIDGE
Pull in your right knee, holding it against your chest. Keeping your head and shoulder blades on the floor, push up with your left leg into a bridge position while keeping your right leg against you. Push up, keeping the pelvis level, then lower yourself down. Do 12 to 15, then switch legs. Do three sets on each side.
MARCHING BRIDGE
With your head, shoulders, and both feet on the floor, push up into a bridge position. While up, begin “marching”—alternate lifting each foot about an inch off the ground, while keeping your pelvis steady and facing straight up. Do three sets of 20 marches (10 on each leg), with a short break between each set.
SWING DRILL
Bend and lift your left leg in front of you, then swing it back behind you as far as it will reach without moving your pelvis or lower back. This is the running motion you want to have—hip extending back, pelvis and lower back neutral (not arched). Do two sets of 20 swings with each leg, alternating legs with each set.

Check out swimbikerun.com for all of your triathlon and running training essentials from equipment, nutrition, gear, apparel, and shoes.

 
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