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The role of hip stability in minimising running injuries

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By Brad Beer

Excessive hip motion during running represents a major injury risk factor for runners. When a runner’s hips move excessively due to hip muscle weakness, the legs of the runner will be subjected to greater loading and strain.

Numerous research findings verify the link between hip muscle strength (and pelvic stability) and the onset of running injuries. For example, hip adduction (where the hip moves towards the midline of the body) and internal rotation (a collapsing in of the hip towards the runner’s midline) have been associated with knee pain and iliotibial band syndrome.1,2,3 Altered hip movements and reduced hip strength have also been identified as common findings in females with knee pain.4

Research has also shown that females have a greater tendency to core instability than males, which may predispose females to greater incidence of lower extremity injury.5 One group of researchers found that female athletes displayed significantly decreased hip external rotation and side bridge strength measures compared with their male counterparts.6

They reported that athletes who experienced an injury over the course of a season displayed significant weakness in hip abduction and external rotation. They also concluded that hip external rotation strength was the sole significant predictor of injury status for the athletes they tested. They tested 80 female and 60 male athletes, many of whom were cross country runners.

Given the frequency of running injuries a failure to stabilise a runner’s pelvis may expose the runner to a gamut of running injuries. The good news is that stabilising the hips can be a straightforward process for a runner. With the right exercises, discipline and scoring method to gauge progress, I have found that all runners, irrespective of running ability, can stabilise their hips. I often tell runners who are either rehabilitating from injury, or seeking to prevent injury, that hip stability exercises are ‘medicine’ for a runner’s legs.

Click here for four of my most commonly prescribed running stability exercises.

Enjoy your training for GCAM16!

 

About Brad

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Brad Beer is a Gold Coast based physiotherapist who throughout his career has delivered in excess of 25,000 physiotherapy consultations. In 2006, Brad founded a physiotherapy group called POGO Physio which, since inception, has treated over 16,000 people.

Recognised as a leading authority on running injury prevention and rehabilitation, Brad himself is an avid runner and is passionate about seeing people unlock their true running potential.

Brad believes that all runners can and should experience pain and injury free running. In 2015 Brad released his first book You CAN Run Pain Free! A Physio’s 5 Steps to Enjoying Injury Free and Faster Running to educate runners that it is indeed possible to enjoy the many benefits of pain free running. Brad’s clients include age group, novice, beginner, and elite athletes. Brad has assisted his clients in winning multiple Australian, world, and even Olympic medals.

Follow Brad’s running advice online:

Website | bradbeer.com.au
Twitter | @Brad_Beer
Instagram | @Brad_Beer

References:

  1. Ferber, R, Noehren, B, Hamill, J, Davis, I. 2010. ‘Competitive female runners with a history of iliotibial band syndrome demonstrate atypical hip and knee kinematics’. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 40: 52–8.
  2. Noehren, B, Davis, I, Hamill, J. 2007. ‘ASB clinical biomechanics award winner 2006: prospective study of the biomechanical factors associated with iliotibial band syndrome’. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 22: 951–6.
  3. Souza, RB, Powers, CM. 2009. ‘Differences in hip kinematics, muscle strength, and muscle activation between subjects with and without patellofemoral pain’. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 39: 12–9.
  4. Powers, CM. 2010. ‘The influence of abnormal hip mechanics on knee injury: a biomechanical perspective’. J Orthopd. & Sports Phys. Ther. 40 (2): 42–51.
  5. Ireland, ML, Wilson, JD, Ballaynte, BT, Davis, IM. 2003. ‘Hip strength in females with and without patellofemoral pain’. J Orthop. Sports Phys. Ther. 33: 671–676.
  6. Leetun, DT, Ireland, ML, Willson, JD, Ballaynte, BT, Davis, IM. 2004. ‘Core stability measures as risk factors for lower extremity injury in athletes’. Med. & Sci. in Sports & Ex. 36 (6): 926–34.

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