Hips & Glutes
The hip is a vital joint for runners to make sure is functioning correctly.
The hip joint is a ball and socket joint that allows for a lot of movement. However, as a result it has multiple muscles that cross the hip joint. The glutes, hip flexors, TFL, hamstrings, thighs and groins all cross the hip and as result careful assessment should be made of each.
Perhaps the most influential set of muscles in the hip joint are the gluteal muscles. These are a collection of muscles that have very important roles in both mobility and stability of the hip.
The Gluteus Maximus is the biggest and most powerful muscle in the body. As a result, it is the muscle that creates a lot of power and allows us to run. It is very important that attention is placed upon strengthening these muscles to cope with the demands of running.
The Gluteus Medius has a large role in stabilising the hip. When the left leg is lifted the right gluteus medius maintains the level position of the hip. Therefore, during a run, runners extensively use the gluteus medius and as a result it can often develop some dysfunction and pain as a result.
Conditions Of The Hip
Trochanteric Bursitis is a condition when pain is localised to the outside of the hip. The bursa are fluid filled sacs that prevent soft tissue structures from rubbing on the bone. However, repetitive exercises (such as running) can cause issues in the surrounding muscle structures and irritate the bursa causing inflammation.
Hip Flexor Pain. The Hip flexors are the muscles that cross the front of the hip to lift it. As running, requires repetitive hip flexion this area can commonly become tight or damaged. This presents with pain in the front of the hip or deep into the stomach.
Conditions That Be As A Result Of The Hip Dysfunction
Runners Knee – The most common cause of 'runners knee’ are issues such as tightening or weakness at the hip structures. Further information on ‘runners knee’ can be seen in this section.
Lower Back Pain - The glute muscles attach into the lower back. If these muscles become tight they can ‘pull’ on the lower back and create pain in the area. The glutes have a role in supporting a joint in the lower back called the sacroiliac joint (SIJ). If the glutes become too tight they can commonly cause issues at this joint result in pain across the lower back.
Sciatica - One cause of sciatica (a nerve/tingling pain running down the leg) can be a tightness in a particular glute muscle called the piriformis. When this muscle becomes tight it can impinge the sciatic nerve.
How To Correct Problems At The Hip
1. Gain a good assessment of your current hip flexibility to analyse any areas of tightness that may lead to dysfunction. Watch the video below to see some simple tips to assess your lower limb flexibility.
2. Improve your flexibility at your hip. Having good mobility at the hip is a crucial aspect for every runner. Watch the video below to see some of the key lower limb stretches we recommend for runners.
3. Increase your strength at the hip. Running is very demanding on the hip and you want to be prepared. Watch the video below to see some exercises to help improve your strength for running.