Tag Archives: stretching

4 Hip Stretches for Healthy Running

Loose hips are very important to any athlete.  Unfortunately they often get overlooked in favor of large muscle groups like the quad, hamstring and calf that are easier to stretch.  With hip extension being a major player in quality running form, tight hips can really hold you back.  Not any more!  Loose hips mean your glutes, piriformis, hip flexors, hamstring and quad can all move through a full range of motion with ease.  All of those muscles play a big part in strong running and keeping them happy can lower your risk of injury while improving speed.  Here are four simple hip stretches that will open you running powerhouse up.

Low Lunge.  This simple hip opener is a classic.  It opens the hip flexors and gets them ready to hip stretchesallow that all important hip extension.  Beginning in a lunging position with your back knee on the ground, push the front foot away, engage your glutes and drive your hips forward.

hip stretchesFigure Four.  Hit major muscle groups including the glutes and lower back along with your hips in Figure Four.  Being laying on your back.  Raise both knees over your hips and cross one ankle over the other knee.  This is one of the best stretches you can do after a workout to aid recovery and stay ready for your next session.

Piriformis Stretch.  The piriformis is often mistaken for the glute.  Instead, it’s buried deep behind the gluteus maximus and rotates the hip outward.  While you’ll also hit this muscle in a Figure Four but the spinal rotation here is a nice touch.  Begin with both legs out straight.  Cross one leg over the other and place the foot flat on the ground.  Use your elbow on the outside of your bent knee to rotate away from the flat leg.

hip stretchesPigeon.  This tough movement will open your hips right up.  To perform it begin in a plank or downward dog position.  Cross the leg of the hip you want to open in front of the other, aiming your foot towards the opposite hip.  Rest your elbow on the floor as you ease deeper into the stretch.

Adding these hip stretches to your warm-up, post run or strength routines, even all three, will not only feel great but make you a more mobile, injury resistant runner.

Coach Meredith

In Running, Hip Extension Matters

A lot of attention gets paid to foot strike these days.  Unfortunately, it’s not one of the biggest problems runners face.  The major factor that most often gets overlooked is hip extension.  Since our stride starts at the hip, that’s where we should focus to fix everything that happens after it starts.  We need our hips to open for an efficient stride, to run faster and help prevent injuries.

How does a good stride start?  The gluteus maximum fires.  It creates most of our forward propulsion when running and causes hip extension.  Unfortunately, this seemingly simple movement  can be limited by several things.  Hip flexor tightness, weak supporting muscles like the gluteus medius, groin tightness, unbalanced pelvic bones, quad tightness and even pronation of the feet can all restrict hip movement.  This restricted movement creates all sorts of form errors, most commonly overstriding, and can lead to injuries.

To open our hips and help our most powerful asset, the glutes, function properly, we need to stretch and strengthen.  Check that your glutes are firing when you run by feeling each thigh Image may contain: one or more people and people sittingpulled back with every step.  If you’re not sure, practice bridges or single leg deadlifts until you’re comfortable with what a working glute feels like.

When you know your glutes are working but still have some restriction, look to your hip flexors.  Hip extension gets a whole lot tougher if they’re tight.  Think of your hips like a bowl.  You want to keep the bowl still and not spill all of the valuable energy they harness.  Tight hip flexors can lead to lots of lost power by rocking that bowl forward and back with each step.  Exercises like couch stretch and pigeon pose can loosen them up and should be done regularly.

Be sure to remember practice makes perfect.  Any additional mobility or strength will change the way your body moves.  Train with proper form at all times.  When a run gets challenging, stop to reset.  It’s hard work but those missed injuries and new PRs are worth it in the end.

Coach Meredith