Hips Don’t Lie
Ok, maybe you were expecting this video, but I wanted to talk about something different. Running and hips. When I first started running long distances back in 2004, I would easily put in 50+ mile weeks and not think twice about it. Well that was until I let a pain in my hip gradually grow into a sharp, debilitating pain that kept me from running for an entire summer. The doctor wanted me to get an MRI but when I wasn’t biking, I was working, and I didn’t have/make time for a MRI. Therefore, I self diagnosed myself with a stress fracture. Since then, about twice a year, I get some sort of leg pain that sidelines me for a month or so. My massage therapist even asked me if I had scoliosis. That was a wake up call for me. I finally realized how much stronger my left side was than my right side, that my hips were tight, and that I needed to work on my posture if I wanted to stay a healthy runner. Over time, I developed the opinion that healthy running revolves around healthy hips. When I focus on a strong core, strong hips, and good posture, running just feels so easy. (This is the idea behind Chi Running.) Hips are an important part of running, so I wanted to dedicate a blog to these very important bones in our bodies…
Why are hips important and how can one have stronger, less tight hips?
Danny Dryer, the author of Chi Running, has an excellent article that explains the importance of hips in running. Some people’s hips are too tight, while others are too loose. However, according to him, correct hip and spine rotation is the key to good running form. How does one achieve proper rotation? Learn to engage your core muscles while running, while letting everything else relax. To do this, align your posture (you need a straight axis to rotate your hips around) and level your pelvis. Here is Mr. Dryer’s explanation of how to do level your pelvis:
Use your lower abdominals and gently pull up on your pubic bone. The lowest of the abdominal muscles is called the pyramidalis, which attaches to the public bone. If you cough, you will feel this muscle. It may be hard to find and feel at first, much less isolate the use of it, but it is worth it to practice finding it and using it. This is where you will practice being a yogi. When you use the pyramidalis and just your lower, deepest abdominal muscles to level your pelvis, while relaxing your gluteus and lower back muscles, you will change the structure of your body and improve all kinds of movement, not just running. It is especially good for men and women who suffer from lower back pain.
Stretching your hips is also just as important. After our running group every Thursday, Sara leads us through some exercises to stretch out the hips. We are all pretty amazed at just how tight our hips actually are. The two poses we do the most are double pigeon pose and pigeon pose. I have been doing these every day for about a month and can tell a huge difference. And of course, strengthening the hips is important to any runner as well. Here are some exercises from Runner’s World. The hip abductor is my favorite. When I first started doing it, I was amazed at just how weak my hips were. Some other exercises can be found here on Livestrong.com.
Over the years, I have learned that running is so much more than just running, It is stretching, lifting weights, eating clean foods, getting enough sleep, and really becoming in tune with the body. I am finally starting to understand that for me, healthy hips equal healthy running. And maybe if I practice some of Shakira’s moves, that will help too.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,