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Posts tagged ‘hips’

Lesson #4 – Running is a Complete Body Sport

Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons I have learned over this year long journey is that running is a complete body sport. It’s as much about every other muscle group in your body as it is about the power of your legs.

From my personal experience, I can tell you that your back and hips play an important role in efficient running. In particular, if your back muscles are tight or weak, some other part of your body will start compensating. At first, this isn’t such a big deal, but over time it adds up. Back muscles might not be such a big area of concern for other runners, but for me, it is. I take 10 minutes before every run and do stretches specifically for my back. So far, so good. And I’m thankful I came to realize this.

With regards to hips, I’ve always thought I had pretty flexible hips. Many of the hip opening yoga poses are fairly easy for me. What has needed work is my hip strength. Back in February when I really injured myself, I think it was a combination of weak hip flexors and tight back muscles. I spent a month working on my hip flexors and the difference has been amazing. I can now feel my hip flexors engage and facilitate smooth running. I feel more upright when I run and overall, my hips feel stronger. Hip exercises have become a routine part of my workout schedule.

Runners get injured. It happens. But I think it’s incredibly important to analyze why we get injured. What part of our body is weak or tight? How has our mileage increased? Have we been too hard on our bodies without enough rest? We have to reflect and we must get in tune with our bodies. Many injuries don’t have to happen.

Happy Trails & Happy Running,


Running Update: I have to admit, I didn’t want to run today. I was incredibly tired and it was almost 90 degrees outside. But I spent some time reflecting on my running goals and made it out the door. It was hot. Really hot. And I had 8 miles on my schedule. Much to my surprise, in spite of the heat, I had an awesome run. The goal was to focus on easy and not push to a point where I felt like I was really trying. My last two miles were 7:40 and 7:35 and that actually felt easy. Perhaps all the hill running is starting to pay off. Stats are here

Opening the Hips

I’m keeping track of all the things that, from my personal experience, will help my running the future. One of my main focuses is the hips. The following video from my favorite yogi, Tara Stiles, has become my favorite hip opening routine. Whenever I do get back to running, I plan to do these stretches before I head out the door. Granted, my toe isn’t touching my head, but I do the best I can. Maybe one day I’ll move as gracefully as she does.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Strengthening the Hip Flexors

About a month ago I posted about the importance of hip flexors. I found some good stretches but right now, as I’m recovering from my injury, I want to know how to strengthen the hip flexor. There is a lot of great information out there about stretching and strengthening the hip flexor (which is super important for us runners). Here are a few of the strength training exercises I am going into start incorporating into my routine:

I think four is a good number to start with right now. If I overwhelm myself, I know I won’t do it. Does anybody have any other hip flexor exercises they recommend? I’ll take all the advice I can get!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,


Benefits of Injury

As a hurting runner, it’s hard to believe that I would actually consider the idea that there are benefits to being injured. Injuries suck. Period. However, I’m finally starting to see a light at the end of this very dark tunnel. It finally came to me this afternoon.

When I started training at the end of November for my race this weekend, my running life was great. I didn’t hurt. I felt light on my feet. My running form felt perfect and I started to question why I ever got injured in the first place. I am such a good runner. I can do this seven days a week. And I did. December was my best running month ever.

But the miles add up. That slightly weaker left side gets weaker. And those slightly tight glutes get tighter. The slanted sidewalk seems to get even more slanted and what started as a slight ache, becomes a serious problem. I knew it was coming but I thought one more long run would be okay. It wasn’t. Read more

Hip Flexors

Due to the fact I did not run my 17 miles this morning (a very sad day for me), I spent the morning learning about the anatomy of the hip. I’ve been down this road so many times and I know my body pretty well by now. My hips are the source of my pain (left hip in particular) and it is affecting everything form my left quad, to my left knee, to my left peroneal tendon. (Instead of the singing the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone it should be a tight iliacus causes runner’s knee…)  Read more

ABC Drills

Yesterday before my cool down, Gavin showed me some running drills. I’ve always had my own version of drills but it was nice to have someone show me exactly what to do. The purpose of these three drills, also known as the ABC drills, is to help with leg turnover and form. Two of them I could do quite easily. However I’m pretty sure I looked like a crazy person throwing my legs around for the other one.

In looking for a good source to describe the ABC drills, I found that most sites included the same A and B drill as Gavin showed me but had a different C drill. Maybe I’ll just add a D and do both 🙂 Read more

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

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,