Updated: Apr 10, 2020
I ran my first half marathon this past September (2019). After, I took a couple of months off from running (mostly due to a busy work schedule). I began running again a few times a week but started experiencing pain in my right hip flexor, when running 2.5 miles or farther. The pain worsens over time as I run and stays with me for more than 24-36 hours. If pain stays with you this long it’s a good indication that you might be doing too much too soon, or that something else is going on.
I found myself physically lifting my right leg with my hands in order to avoid actively lifting it on its own, which is another sign that something needs to change. I backed off from running, tried stretching and strengthening the muscles around the area, but wasn’t sure where to go from here. I have never experienced this before.
Luckily, I attended Chris Johnson’s Bones, Tendons, Weights, & Whistles course and was given the advice to start a walking program and do these exercises (among others), to decrease my chances of making the pain worse or sustaining a more severe injury; so here I am doing my homework and sharing the exercises with you! (If you don’t already, I highly recommend following Chris on Instagram, @zerenpt )
These exercises are not only useful for runners experiencing pain, but for any runner looking to improve their overall running performance.
The goal with these is to stay as upright as possible (except for the banded lateral tap exercise (#2), that one you want a little bend at the hips and knee) and control through the range of motion.
If you are experiencing pain while running and give these exercises a try, keep in mind that you want to push yourself but only as much as is acceptable to you. Everyone has different pain tolerances and you know your body best. If an exercise feels like it’s too much back off and try a different one, or contact a Physical Therapist that has experience working with runners to give you a more individualized home program.
Lateral Taps off Step
These are great for working on upright posture, quad strength, and overall control standing on one leg.
1. Start standing on a step
2. Slowly lower to tap your heel to the ground, tap very lightly (as if you are tapping your heel to the pointy end of a nail)
3. Raise back up to starting position
5. Repeat 2 sets of 15-20 reps
Banded Lateral Taps
This exercises focuses on single leg control and lateral hip strength.
1. Start with a band around your knees, slightly bend your knees and send hips back into a small squat position.
2. Lift your right leg slightly so you are balancing on your left
3. Keeping your left leg straight and stable, tap your right foot out to the side while maintaining even hips (do not reach so far that you are compensating and lifting your hip to get further, try not to let your left knee wobble)
4. Slowly bring your right foot back to starting position - maintain the small squat throughout the whole exercise
5. Repeat 2 sets of 15 reps on each leg
Step Up w/ Knee Drive
This exercise is meant to work on postural control (keeping an upright position), single leg control/balance, lateral hip strength, and quad strength.
1. Start with your right foot on a small step and your left on the ground behind you
2. Maintain an upright postion as you step up and lift your left leg into the air at hip height (try not to let your right knee wobble as you move through the exercise)
3. As you move through the exercise your arms should move as well mimicking running (I.e. when you lift your left leg your right arm comes up as well - see the second photo)
4. Slowly lower your left leg back to the starting position
5. Repeat 2 sets of 15 on each leg
Give this exercises a try and let us know what you think!