When is the last time you really gave your hips attention? Not a quick butterfly stretch or lunge – but when you actually focused on really building up some strength and stability?
Shakira must have been a runner with her “hips don’t lie” mantra! Invariably most runners I’ve talked to who end up with knee pain, foot pain, hip pain, back pain, find out that it’s largely due to weak hips and glutes.
Your hips keep your entire body centered and aligned.
Giving your hips more attention will not only strengthen up your core, glutes, and legs, but it will also help prevent common knee injuries runners often face because of those weaknesses! I’ll share this workout below, but want to talk a little more about why our hips matter so much.
What Size Stability Ball?
I started getting this question a lot and since I’m tall and often find the balls in say a hotel gym are too tiny for me, I thought I’d share this little table to help you out too!
|Height||Ball Size||Good Option|
|5’0″ to 5’5″||Small: 55cm/22″||Anti-Burst 55|
|5’6″ to 5’11”||Medium: 65cm/26″||Heavy Duty|
|6’0″ to 6’3″||Large: 75cm/30″||Tall Athlete|
At 5’9″ I have a 65cm ball and it’s great for pretty much everything I need to do.
On the same page now? Good, let’s talk and then do the work.
What is Hip Stability?
I’ve previously talked about the importance of hip extension and rotations open up your hips, but it doesn’t just stop there. The stability ball comes in handy again to not only prevent knee injury and help you stretch, but also to strengthen areas like your hamstrings and glutes as well!
Let me first convince you that it really matters!!
A 2005 study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that a 12.2 percent increase in hip strength led to a 3.8 percent improvement in the 40-Yard Dash and a 9 percent improvement in a Shuttle Run.
Hip stability means that each side is working the equally with every movement you take. In running that means, you don’t want to have a stronger side trying to compensate by pulling up or dipping to help the weak side.When one side is off balance, or your putting more pressure or strength on one hip rather than both, your center of gravity is shifted…and I probably don’t need to spell out the next part for you, but I will!
Why Runners Have Weak Hips?
It’s not just runners, it’s everyone who sits, who moves and who doesn’t specifically focus on working our hips our glutes.
How does one become imbalanced?
In runners, it’s frequently a result of tight muscles. Tight hip flexors restrict your range of motion and frequently lead your glutes to stop firing, which creates a chain effect of all kinds of compensation.
- Lack of mobility
- Lack of cross training
- Lack of glute and hip strength training
- Lack of stretching or foam rolling
- Inadequate warm up
In other words, you’re going to have to more than hop out of your desk chair and go for a run to stay healthy and injury free. When you hop up, spend a little time on a true warm up which fires up your muscles and later in the day spend some time on mobility or stretching.
Testing Your Hip Stability
How does one know if they have weak hips. First up, you’re probably injured.
Runners knee, hip rotation, stiffness or pain on one side, are all common signs that your hips could be a little imbalanced on one side.
But if you want a specific way to test your hip strength related to running, the easiest test I’ve seen that you can do at home from Sports Injury Physio:
- Stand in front of a mirror and balance on one leg.
- Now bend your knee to do a single leg squat.
- Look at the angle between your hip and where your knee moves. (holding a ruler in front of you with each end on your hip bones helps make the visual easier!)
- Your knee should stay in line with your second toe and your pelvis should stay level.
But honestly…I don’t know a single runner who doesn’t need to include hip stability work in their weekly routine. Maybe if you’re consistently doing yoga or Pilates, you’re covered.
If your hip dips doing this move, then stop putting it off, start doing the work. Below are just a few moves you can use, but there are links to additional workouts.
Hip Strength with Stability Ball
Now that you’ve tested your stability, it’s time to incorporate these strengthening exercises into your daily routine.
Watch the video below for a demo and of course Pin the image above to remind you!
These are just three moves you can do with the stability ball that will get you started.
Raise in to a bridge then lower half way down before pulling ball in to you. This is going to engage a different portion of your muscles than doing it from a full bridge. After you push the ball back out, lower all the way down, then repeat.
Single Leg Lift
In a full bridge, pull the ball in to you and then with everything engaged straighten one leg and then return to the ball. Remain in full bridge and straighten the other leg in to the air.
Laying on back with ball tucked in to your knees, engage your core and bring knees in to chest, while raising your head to knees.
This is a SUPER fast no excuses way to start adding in some extra stability to your workouts. However, if you’re ready for more then checkout these moves:
- Complete Core Workout with Stability Ball for Runners
- Stability Ball for Hip Mobility
- Hip Stability Workout
- Glute Activation Exercises
Or jump ahead to my full post of hip strengthening exercises for runners.
Have you ever had an injury due to weak hips?
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