Although running is a great way to exercise, it can often result in injury. It’s a high impact exercise and the faster you run, the higher the impact. If you have a strong core and no muscle imbalances, running shouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, most of us have a few muscle imbalances that could lead to running injuries. This is the first of a series of posts on exercises for runners and will focus on the problem of hip drop.
Why do we have muscle imbalances?
Muscle imbalances are closely linked to poor posture. We need both strength and flexibility in our muscles for our bodies to perform their best. Often, some muscles are weaker than they should be and some are tighter than they should be. This can happen due to various reasons including:
- Inactive lifestyles
- Previous injury
- Repetitive movements
- High heels
- One side of the body doing more work than the other (for example habitually carrying a bag on one shoulder)
- Desk work
Imbalances that can cause a problem for runners
What is hip drop?
For most of the time in running, body weight is supported on one leg. Hip drop is where the hip on the non-supporting leg drops lower. Obviously, since the supporting leg keeps changing, this means the hips are tilting from side to side. It can result in a range of problems with pain and injury of the hips, back, knees and ankles. To avoid this problem, we need to have strong lateral hip stabilisers. The following exercises will strengthen them up. Try to do them 2-3 times a week, at least 12 reps on each side of everything.
- Take your feet as wide as is comfortable and turn your feet outwards.
- Bend your right knee, shifting your weight towards the right.
- Come back centre and repeat to the left.
- Stand upright and lift your right leg as high as you can without losing balance
- Hold for a count of 5
- Repeat on the left
- Get into an all-4s position on the floor. Make sure your hands are directly below your shoulders.
- Take your legs out behind, keeping your back slightly curved.
- Now bring one knee at a time in towards your arms. You should bring your knees to the outside of your arms.
- Stand with your feet together.
- Take your right leg out to the side as you lower into a squat position.
- Bring your legs back together and repeat to the left.
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart and then lift your right leg to the side.
- Avoid leaning forwards or backwards – raise your arms to help you balance if necessary.
- Return your leg to the floor and repeat on the left.
- Start by lying on your left.
- Bend both legs and bring them forward of your body.
- Keeping your feet together, rotate your right leg from your hip to lift your right knee.
- Lower and repeat.
- When you’ve done all your reps with your right leg, lie on your right and repeat with your left leg.