Whenever my sisters and I get together there is usually some hip action going on. One of them will come stand next to me, pop her hip, and suddenly I’m halfway across the room. I try my best to battle back, but my hips just don’t pack the punch that some of my sisters’ do. Which is not to say my hips haven’t done enough for me. They keep my pants up pretty well. They’ve helped me carry and deliver and carry (again) two little boys. And they’ve run with me for thousands of miles without too much complaining.
Yep, my hips have earned their keep, and I try to take care of them in return. Because if I don’t, they might rebel. And if they are put out, they can cause all sorts of problems. Back in March, when I had that weird pain (which turned out to be a big fat knot that needed lots and lots of massaging and foam rolling), the sports doctor that I went to said that it was likely caused by weakness in my hips. So many of her runner-patients, she said, had weak hips. Weak hips can cause problems all the way down your legs. In your IT band, your knees, your tendons, your feet. The whole shebang.
Luckily, strengthening your hips is relatively easy. At least in my opinion. Yes, it takes some time, but you can lie down while you do it. And watch tv if you want. Allow me to share with you the one exercise that, if you have only a few minutes, should be the one you do so that you can keep running, injury-free.
Side-lying leg lift: Lie on your side with your legs straight and your hips stacked on top of each other. Lift and lower the top leg, maintaining control of the movement. Do three sets of 10-15 reps. Roll over to the other side and do the other leg.