Saturday, August 10, 2013

If You Like To Run: Work Your Hips!

I've treated a lot of runners over the years and one clinical pearl of advice I can give to running enthusiasts is to condition their hips. Every running injury I've ever treated had a component of hip dysfunction. Hip dysfunction could be in the form of hip joint hypo- or hyper mobility, muscle weakness, or instability. Or it can be something as simple as a lack of coordination of firing the right muscles at the right time.

Regardless of what kind of hip dysfunction is present, I'd recommend adding some kind of supplementary hip specific mobility, stability, strength, power, and proprioceptive training into your program.

The following picture is from the book Human Locomotion: The Conservative Management of Gait-Related Disorders by Thomas C. Michaud on page 133:

It's interesting that he mentions that some of "the best long distance runners possess leg morphology that distributes mass closer to the hip joint." This is due to the high metabolic costs during running of accelerating and decelerating the lower legs. He cited a study where the authors added weight to the feet and found that it more than doubled the metabolic costs of locomotion:

Martin P, Heise G, Morgan D. The Relationships between mechanical power, energy transfers, and walking and running economy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993; 25: 508-515.

And with long distance running, it's all about energy efficiency. As one fatigues, the body compensates, chances of injury increase.

The bottom-line:

If you like to run, work your ass.

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