Issue 03 • June 2012Legs

It’s all in the hips: Five exercises for healthier hips

Patellofemoral syndrome, Achilles tendinitis, and iliotibial-band syndrome. What do all of these terms have in common? They are the top triathlon injuries that can ruin your season. With the injury rate (mostly repetitive motion injuries) hovering around 75 percent, it’s not a matter of whether you will get injured; it’s a matter of when. Inadequate hip muscle stabilization is a top cause of injuries in triathletes and runners, and rarely do these athletes do exercises to prevent injury and maximize performance. Remember, the best offense is a great defense. Help keep yourself off of the sideline and out there competing by doing these simple, no-gym-required, hip strengthening moves two to three times per week.

Fire Hydrants

Get on all fours, putting your hands directly under shoulders and knees over your hips. Engage your abdominals. Lift your leg up and out, maintaining 90 degrees of hip flexion and knee flexion. Avoid rotating your hips or arching your back as you lift the leg. The goal is to lift your thigh to level of your torso. Keep your foot flexed the entire time.

Reps: 8-10 lifts
Sets: 2-3 on each side

Walking Lateral Shuffle

Set your core. Put your hands on your hips and keep your legs straight. Take small lateral steps. You can add a resistance band at your ankles
or knee.

Reps: 30 seconds each side
Sets: 2-4

Clam

Lay on your side and place your heels in line with your hips. Make sure your hip flexion is only at 45 degrees. Keep your knees flexed to 90 degrees. Keep your abdominals engaged and a neutral pelvis. Your hips should be stacked; don’t allow them to rock open. Lift the top leg. At peak height, your positioning resembles an open clamshell. Your feet remain in contact throughout movement.

Reps: 8-10 times each side
Sets: 2

Side Plank with Abduction

Lay on your side with your arm extended under shoulder. Bend the knee of your leg closest to the ground. Your top leg should be straight and you should point your toe. Keep your body aligned in a straight line. Rest your top hand on your tip. Lift your top leg to an abducted position. The goal is to lift it to where it’s parallel to your body. Raise and lower your top leg without coming into contact with the mat.

Reps:8-10 raises and lowers
Sets: 2-4 on each leg (alternating sides)

Abduction Against a Wall

Lift your leg out to the side only as far as you can control and maintain your center (small movement). Keep your foot flexed the entire time. Return to the starting position and repeat. Drag your heel against wall, keeping contact through the whole movement.

Reps: 10-12 each leg
Sets: 2-3 (alternating sides)

Article by Jennifer Vogel. Photography by Valarie Linnen.

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