Running is arguably the most popular form of cardiovascular fitness activities performed today. It is performed by every level of athlete whether you’re an average Joe or a high level professional athlete. Incidence statistics show that between 70-90% of ALL runners sustain an injury at some point throughout their training. Knee pain is the most common joint injured at all levels of fitness. Two of the more common are IT band syndrome and patellofemoral pain (anterior knee pain).
One key and often overlooked area, that could keep you from being another statistic or help to remedy a current injury, is hip strengthening. Some people might be confused by this, thinking “why would I need to focus on my hips when the pain is at my knee?” The simple answer – Good hip control allows for good knee mechanics. Without the appropriate strength from the hips, the knees will repeatedly land in positions that promote pain and injury. So what should you do? That’s easy. Add strengthening exercises in your current program that focus on the hip abductors and hip extensors, more appropriately termed the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. My personal favorite is doing a traditional squat with bands around the knees. With the addition of the band, it will promote more hip abductor strengthening by cuing the knees to not collapse inside of the feet. Other options include side leg lifts, banded side steps, clamshells, glute raises when lying on your stomach, etc. The options are endless.
If your own creativity bank fails you, google the terms “hip abductor strengthening” or “glute strengthening.” The key is focusing on good form and feeling the right muscles working. Make this a cornerstone to your future training program to keep you on the road rather than sidelined by injury.
Akil Piggott, PT, DPT,OCS, ACSM EP-C
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