Three Hip Abduction Exercises for Distance Runners

 

By Rick Morris

 

Hip abduction is a motion that distance runners pay little attention to. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, the muscles involved are relatively small and hidden. Second the hip abduction motion, a movement of your leg laterally away from your body, is one that doesn't seem like a running specific motion.

The muscles involved in hip abduction may not be as large or obvious as your quads or hamstrings, but don't underestimate the important role they play in your distance running performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the stance phase of your stride all of your body weight is momentarily supported on one leg. When your right leg is supporting your weight your right hip abductors are “holding up” the left side of your hip. That stress on your hip abductors takes place on every step you take. If your hip abductors aren’t strong they will eventually fail and your hip will begin to drop down on the unsupported side. Your running stride will break down which will decrease your performance and put you at risk of a number of injuries.

 

Here are three simple  exercises will help improve both the strength and endurance of your hip abductor muscles.

 

Hip Shrugs

 

This is a basic level exercise that is appropriate for beginning runners and is also a valuable workout for more advanced runners with little strength training experience or those building a base of running strength.

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. This is a bit more advanced than the hip shrugs but is still a basic to intermediate level exercise.

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.

 

Hip Roll Strides

 

Here is a more advanced exercise that is very running specific. This exercise is similar to standard hip rolls with the addition of a knee drive.

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. As your hip is rolled forward drive your knee up as in a running stride. As your hip rolls down and back, drive your foot down and back like a push off in your running stride. Your body should remain completely vertical.

Continue for about 45 seconds, then switch legs and repeat the exercise.

Keep your body completely vertical with no lateral, forward or backward lean.

For a complete strength training program for distance runners including more hip abduction exercises please see Bear Naked Strength Training for Distance Runners.

 

 

 

 

 

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