By Chris Scarborough
Running is a very common activity. It plays a major role in many popular sports such as soccer, baseball, softball, football, and many more. It can even be a sport all by itself, and the sport of running is becoming increasingly popular.
However, it is also a very common recreational activity and a way for many people to stay fit.
We all know that you can train yourself to run further by gradually increasing the distances you run each day until you are up to the distances you want to run. But, you can also improve your running speed.
If you watched any of the Olympic Games this summer, you may have noticed the champion runners, no matter the distance, were hip runners. This is a learned and trained way to run; it is not something most people do naturally.
One of the easiest ways to improve running speed and reduce pain in the knees as well is to learn to use your hips to run instead of the knees. The hips are very strong muscle groups, but often get under used.
Knee pain, back pain and foot pain are all the result of using the hips too little while running. These and other types of pain also contribute to slower running.
When you first begin running with the hips it seems harder, not easier. Why? Because the hips, just like any muscles that do not get used enough, get weak and lack endurance
However, just like other muscle groups, the hips can get stronger with training and gain more endurance.
Also, at first, athletes complain they “don’t feel right”. Of course it doesn’t feel right at first. This is because they had been doing things wrong for so long, that doing it right is foreign to them.
I want to challenge runners, and athletes who run as part of their sport to do just one exercise … that’s right, just one — to start.
Stand on one leg and lift the other knee up so that it is the same height as the hip on the same side (see photo). This is called hip flexion. Pull the toe up toward the shin on this side, not toe down. Next, while hip is flexed on one side, straighten out the leg you are standing on as much as possible — squeeze the buttocks on this side.
Now comes a challenge; on the standing leg side, lift the toes up in the shoe (do not rock back on the heel) then try to spread the toes out.
Hold this position for 15 seconds. Repeat four times on each leg for 15 seconds. Do this three times each week. After a month, you will notice significant improvement in your hip strength and will be able to use them much better in your running.
Chris Scarborough is a Strength and Speed Specialist in The Birmingham area. He can be contacted for speed and running instruction at 205-915-9614 or Coach@BetterRunningSpeed.com. He will also be posting regular video tips on the Trussville Tribune Facebook page.