Glute Activation Exercises and Hip Flexor Pliability to Improve Run Times – part 2

By Kristina Bacco, PT, DPT

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As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog, hip mobility is very important when it comes to running mechanics. Tightness in the hip flexors (the muscles in the front of the hip), particularly the iliopsoas, can result in impaired hip extension. If the iliopsoas is tight, it will result in a shorter stride by restricting hip extension. With limited hip extension, it’s harder to engage your glutes. Limitations in overall hip mobility can also put you at risk for injury due to disrupted biomechanics and the compensations that occur because of these altered mechanics. In addition to the glute activation exercises mentioned in Part 1, complete the following exercises as part of your running warm-up to improve your mobility and prepare your hips for the run. 

1)  Lateral Lunge Stretch (10-15 reps/each side) 

Stand with feet greater than hip-width apart and feet pointed forward. Shift your weight laterally over one leg as you allow that knee to bend. Sit your hips back to keep your knee from passing in front of your toes. Gently push back up to the starting position and repeat on the other side. For a greater stretch in the hip, start with a wider stance. Repeat 10-15 times on each side. 

2)  Hydrants (10 reps/each direction/each side) 

Start on hands and knees – hands directly under shoulders and knees directly under hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine for a flat back. Lift one leg up and out to the side, keeping the knee bent. Then circle it back and around to the starting position. Complete 10 reps circling backward in this motion. Then reverse the motion to complete 10 reps in a forward circling motion (leg kicks up behind you first with the knee bent and then circles out to the side).

3)  Low Lunge w/ Spinal Rotation (10 reps/each side)

Set up in a low lunge position with the right foot forward and the left foot straight out behind you. Place the left hand down on the floor to the side of the right foot. Rotate the right arm out to the side and up to the ceiling, rotating the spine. Repeat 10 times on each side.

4)  Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch (10-15 reps/each side)

Begin in a half-kneeling position with one foot out in front of you. Keep a straight spine and engage your glutes to shift your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the hip. Be sure to not arch your back. Repeat 10-15 times on each side.

Check out Part 1 of this blog addressing the gluteal activation portion of this topic and recommended exercises to add to your running warm-up. If you feel any discomfort performing these exercises or want to expand your running program, please reach out for an appointment with a physical therapist.

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