Hip Abduction - Critical Core for Distance Runners

 

By Rick Morris

 

At first glance, it may not seem like the muscles that move and stabilize your hip and pelvis are part of your core. They are actually a very important part of your core anatomy, especially for distance runners. Your core is a rather vague term that describes the muscles in the center or core of your body. One way to look at your core muscles is to imagine them as what connects your extremities to the center of your body. That would include the muscles of your abs, lower back and pelvis.  One of the most important muscle groups for distance runners are those that support your hip.

 

The first attribute many envision about core muscles are rippling abs. Core training will give you great looking abs, but that obviously isn't important to a distance runner with the exception of those finish line photos. Strong hip abductor muscles are critical for you as a distance runner because they act as a strong base for your hard working leg muscles. They provide a sturdy anchor that keeps your hips stable and powerful throughout your running stride. If you have weak core muscles, the non supported side of your hips will begin to drop, causing poor running mechanics, wasted energy, lack of power and possible injury. Your normal distance running workouts, especially hill running, does a fairly good job of working your hip abductors, but you need more. You need some extra strength training that specifically targets your hip stabilization muscles. Here are just a few of the many possible exercises you can do to strengthen that all important hip abduction motion and hip stabilization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Hydrants

 

Position yourself on your hands and knees with your back straight. Don’t allow your back to arch or bow.

 

Contract your abs and core muscles to stabilize your hips and spine.

 

Keeping your right knee bent at a 90 degree angle raise your right leg laterally away from your body. Raise your leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground and return to the starting position.

 

Continue this motion for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

 

Switch legs and repeat.

 

Hip Shrugs

 

Stand on a bench or step with your right foot on the bench. Your left foot should be held unsupported next to your right foot. Your hips should be level with both feet held at the same height.

 

Lower your unsupported left foot towards the ground by dipping the left side of your pelvis. Your body should remain completely vertical and your knees fully extended. The only motion should be at your hips.

 

Now raise your left foot above the level of your right foot by raising your left hip as high as possible. This should be a hip shrugging motion similar to shrugging your shoulder. Keep performing that motion for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

 

Switch leg positions and repeat.

 

All motion in this exercise is at your hips. Avoid any movement of your knees or ankles. Keep your body completely vertical with no lateral, forward or backward lean.

 

Hip Rolls

 

This exercise is very similar to the hip shrugs. You simply add in a rotary or rolling motion with your hips.

 

Stand on a bench or step with your right foot on the bench. Your left foot should be held unsupported next to your right foot. Your hips should be level with both feet held at the same height.

 

Lower and roll your unsupported left foot towards the ground and forward by dipping the left side of your pelvis and at the same time rolling it backward. Continue the cycling motion by raising your left hip and rolling it forward. It should be like a smooth cycling motion with your left hip. Your body should remain completely vertical and your knees fully extended. The only motion should be at your hips.

 

Continue rolling forward for about 45 seconds then reverse directions and roll backward for another 45 seconds.

 

Switch leg positions and repeat.

 

All motion in this exercise is at your hips. Avoid any movement of your knees or ankles. Keep your body completely vertical with no lateral, forward or backward lean.

 

Leg Sweeps

 

Stand in a relaxed position with your feet about 12 inches apart.

 

With your weight centered over the middle of your left foot, sweep your right leg, in front of your body, as far to the left as possible and then back to the right as far as possible. Concentrate on reaching your maximum arc with each leg sweep.

 

Keep your body and support foot facing forward. Don’t rotate your torso or legs. The only movement should be lateral movement of your sweeping leg. Keep sweeping your right leg for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

 

Switch legs and repeat.

 

Side Star

 

Lie on your left side with your upper body supported by your extended left arm and hand. Your lower body should be supported by the side of your left foot. Your body should be completely straight and supported off the ground. Only your left hand and the left side of your foot should be touching the ground. Your right arm should be resting along the right side of your body.

 

Contract your core muscles to stabilize your body.

 

Now raise your right leg and right arm laterally away from your body. At the same time raise your lower body by pushing your left leg and hip laterally away from the ground. Hold that position for about 45 seconds.

 

Switch sides and repeat.

 

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