If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ve heard me go on and on about the importance of hip and glute strength for runners, but since we have a lot of new Crew members, we should probably go over it again. 🙂
Our hips play a major role in keeping us healthy. Numerous scientific research studies have proven that runners routinely suffer from weak, tight, and under-developed hip & glute muscles.
These hip muscle groups are particularly important because they’ve been implicated in a large range of running injuries. Weak hips can often be the cause of IT band pain, patella tendonitis (runner’s knee), piriformis issues, sciatica, and a myriad of other common running injuries.
I found out first hand how weak my hips were in late 2016 when I ran the Chicago Marathon. Truth be told, it started MUCH earlier than that. I had been suffering from knee pain for a long time, years really. I went to doctor after doctor, had numerous x-rays and 2 MRIs but each time the docs told me I was fine. There was nothing wrong with my knee. SO FRUSTRATING! I mean come on…I knew I wasn’t imagining the pain!
I kept running of course because that’s what we do. We push through the pain…especially when doctors are telling us there is nothing wrong. I got a cortisone shot a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon and that helped NONE. I was fine through the early miles of the race but around mile 18, like clockwork, I started having stabbing pain in my left knee. Holding back tears, I kept running/walking and watched my pace slow a lot. I was doing more walking by then and I just couldn’t keep the pace needed to hit the time I wanted. I watched that PR fade away with each mile. I finished. I cried (I pretty much always cry when I finish a marathon). I did get a PR…by about 3 minutes, and I was happy about that. But I was very ready for a much faster time so the disappointment was still there. My lungs and my legs could handle the pace….but the pain in my knee held me back.
When I got home I called an orthopedic that was recommended to me and was able to get in pretty quickly. He looked at my past MRIs and said the same thing every other doctor told me. “Your knee is fine. There is nothing wrong with it.” UGGGHHHHH!!
Thankfully, he did not stop there. He did not make me feel, once again, like I was delusional and making up the pain. He said that my knee was fine…it was my hips that were the problem.
“Your hips & glutes are weak. When those areas are not strong enough to sustain the weight of your body pounding into the pavement for so long, it shoots pain down into other areas.” For me…it was my left knee.
He gave me some strengthening exercises to do like clams, side lying leg lifts, bridges, Hip lifts, leg swings, etc… I started doing them right away and also incorporated them into our #CoreCrew calendar. No joke y’all…I DO NOT have knee pain anymore. In fact within about 2 months of the strength training I had ZERO knee pain. YAY!! Finally someone was able to explain to me what was wrong and how I could fix it.
My hips did not lie and the Orthopedic was right. All that money spent on doctor visits, X-rays and MRIs, and all I needed was some basic strength exercises to help me run pain free!
This was all in late 2016. Throughout the summer of 2017, I trained for the New York Marathon. I ran a 4:35 in October 2016 in Chicago….and one year later in November 2017, I ran a 4:05:22 at the New York Marathon and I did it pain free! I won’t say that it didn’t hurt or that it was easy…it was still a marathon. But the dreaded knee pain never came. Not at mile 18, 20, 24 or 26. Yes, I cried when I crossed the finish line…but that’s nothing new. 🙂
Your hips don’t lie either. Are they trying to tell you something?
Day 2 exercises: 3 sets of 10 (see “how to” videos at bottom of post)
- Weighted Hip Lifts
- Clams with Resistance Band (if you don’t have a resistance band that’s ok do it without the band)
- Reverse Clams
- Push Ups (3 x 10)
- Wall Sit (:60 x 2)
Day 2 Bonus: Side Lying Leg Lifts (3 x 10) – This exercise is designed to strengthen our glutes and shape our derriere. In addition to working your glutes, this does wonders for your core, as well. Make sure you are holding your core tight while you’re performing this move!
Day 3: Quick Workout – The Core Challenge: Everyone really liked this workout last week and it fired up our core in a good way so let’s do it again on Wednesday! If you are new to planks, just do the best you can. I promise you will get better at them!
Speed Work: This week’s speed work is the “Even Steven” workout. You can find the details in our Monday post. Click here and scroll down to find out how to make it happen! I didn’t talk about “when” to do speed work in yesterday’s post, but they best days to do speed work are opposite days from your long runs. So if you do long runs on Saturday, Tuesday or Wednesday are your best options. If you go long on Sunday, Wednesday or Thursday are your best options. If you don’t give yourself enough time after your speed work to recover, your next long run will suffer. If you don’t give yourself enough time after your long run to recover, your speed work will suffer. Resting is important. “Rest” doesn’t always mean no running….but it does mean a nice and easy pace. That easy pace allows your legs and your lungs to take a break from the tough work.
Day 2 “how to” videos: All of the exercises for today are listed below. Please watch how to do them correctly to avoid getting hurt or and to avoid doing all this work for nothing…
Bridge: The bridge exercise strengthens the whole abdominal region, the lower back and the glutes.
Weighted Hip Lifts: This is one of my favorite exercises and it is very similar to the bridge except you’re resting your body on a bench, chair, sofa or bed. Adding a weight will help you build stability and strength. Go slow and don’t add too much weight. If you don’t have a dumbbell you can use, try a medicine ball or anything sort that has some weight to it.
Clams with Resistance Band: The band resisted clam shell exercise is great for strengthening and mobilizing the external hip rotators. This exercise strengthens and supports our knees so that we can decrease knee stress.
Reverse Clams: Keep some space between your knees and keep your body straight not arched. Great how to video here with common mistakes!
Push Ups: Same how to video from yesterday. Push ups from your knees or against the wall are OKAY! Work from where you are now don’t try to do more than you are ready for!
Wall Sit: Again, same video from yesterday because I really like how she explains how to do this exercise and why it’s so good for us. You will see A LOT of wall sit in your future with the #CoreCrew so I hope you learn to love them! 🙂