Running – it’s all in the hips

Jun 4, 2021

Running is all in the hips

Running injuries are as diverse as the runners they affect. More often than not, running injuries affect the muscles, tendons, joints and ligaments of the lower limbs as well as the pelvis and lower back. A list of running injuries can go on and on.

Runners perform in a world where there is only one foot in contact with the ground at a time. This places a lot of stress on the muscles around the hip because they are responsible for the entire body posture and weight when that foot comes into contact with the ground.

If these hip muscles are weak, a series of processes occur such as an unlevelled pelvis, valgus knee position (knock knee) and compensations at the foot (pronation) and lower back. This explains why most running injuries are secondary to hip instability as these weakened muscles overload the tissues from the foot all of the way to the lower back.

Optimally, the joints of the body should be aligned correctly. This is a dynamic process which helps to maintain the joint’s range of motion. In order for the joint to function properly it must be correctly aligned. If the muscles surrounding these joints are weak, the joint moves from its correct alignment causing added stress and strain.

So what can a runner with repetitive injuries do in order to make their running experience more enjoyable? A visit to your chiropractor will help with incorrect joint alignment and injuries to the muscles and tissues around these joints. Manipulation for the joints that are not correctly aligned helps increase range of motion and blood flow to the joints helping them to function optimally.

Myofascial release works well for the overworked muscles that often become tight. Chronic tightness leads to inflammation and eventually adhesions between the tissues surrounding the joints. Your chiropractor can release these muscles by either massage or using specialised tools. This will help increase flexibility, improve circulation and relieve pain.

All of the above provides the runner with the ability to complete correct therapeutic exercises at home. A good place to start would be to strengthen the hip musculature.

Below are three exercises that a runner can do at home.

1. Posterior lunge

Start by standing on both legs with your feet hip width apart.

Slowly bend your weight-bearing knee to lower your hips to the floor as if you are going to sit on a chair.

Make sure that your knee is positioned directly above your ankle and don’t let it shift forward over your foot.

The non weight-bearing leg moves backwards, placing the toes on the ground.

The knee of the non weight-bearing leg should not touch the ground.

Return to your start position by consciously contracting the gluteal muscle on the weight-bearing side.

Repeat this for 10 repetitions for 3 sets on each side.

Posterior lunge

2. Clams with a theraband

Lie on your side with your feet together, your hips flexed to 45 degrees and your knees flexed to 90 degrees.

Place and elastic theraband around the outside of both of your knees.

While keeping your ankles touching each other, lift  your top knee upward without rolling your hips backwards.

Slowly lower your knee so that they touch again.

Repeat this for 10 repetitions for 3 sets on each side.

Clams with a theraband

3. Side bridge

Lie on your side and rest your weight on your forearm and feet.

Lift your hips forward and towards the ceiling until your body is in a straight line/plank position. If this is too difficult, you may start by resting your weight on your forearm and knees instead of your feet.

You can do this in front of a mirror to make sure that your form is correct.

Slowly lower your hip back to the floor.

Repeat this for 10 repetitions for 3 sets on each side.

Side bridge

Please consult with a professional if any of these exercises cause you pain.

Lisa Dickerson

Dr Lisa Dickerson is a qualified chiropractor and owner of Boskruin Chiropractic. She has a Masters degree in Chiropractics, as well  as a Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Chiropractics.  Lisa is a Council member of the Chiropractic Association of SA and has also lectured at the University of Johannesburg on Clinical Biomechanics. Read more about Lisa here

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