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3 hip abductor exercises to prevent injuries

Strengthening these small muscles will improve your running form to keep you strong and healthy

Your hips play an important role in your running mechanics, and runners with weak hips are at a higher risk for several injuries, including IT band syndrome, hamstring tendinopathy, achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis and patellofemoral pain syndrome (a.k.a. runner’s knee). These four exercises target the hip abductors to improve your running mechanics so you can run faster and farther without getting injured.

No, running doesn’t ruin your hips

What do your hip abductors do?

The primary hip abductor muscles are your gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and tensor fasciae latae. These three small muscles are responsible for lifting your leg to the side of the body. When you’re running, the abductor muscles on your stance leg are responsible for lifting up the non-stance side of the hip without allowing your hip to drop significantly to one side. These muscles are easy to overlook, and runners often ignore them until they have an injury. By incorporating the following exercises into your regular routine, you can take care of many common runner injuries before they happen, so you have no interruptions in training.

Side plank with hip hike




This exercise targets your abs, shoulders and hip abductors. The key to doing these correctly is to ensure your legs are in line with your trunk, and not migrating forward, which will miss your abductor muscles. If doing these from your feet is too hard at first, do them from your knees, bending them at 90 degrees and making sure you can draw a straight line from your knees to your head. Aim for 10-20 repetitions.

Standing hip hike




This exercise targets your gluteus medius. Stand on a low step, with one foot suspended in the air. Slowly drop your hip so your foot is reaching for the floor, then hike that hip up into the air. Your opposite leg should stay straight the entire time. Aim for 10-20 repetitions.

Offset walking lunge




Holding a weight in one hand, keep your core tight as your perform regular walking lunges, trying not to lean to the side where you’re holding the weight. The hip abductors are worked the most when the weight is opposite to the lunging leg. Do 10-15 reps with the weight in one hand, then switch hands and do 10-15 more.

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