Sunday, April 4, 2010

Developing Hip Strength and Power for Efficient Running

Yes, runners, you need to get stronger and more powerful to run more efficiently. As, I mentioned in the previous post (Enhancing Hip and Ankle Mobility for Effective Running), before you try to change your running mechanics you need to develop some underlying physical attributes. Hip strength and power are a couple more physical attributes to develop. This will give you the physical ability to 'pull'.

Most people and your average runner have weak hips. There are three 'flavors' of hip strength that are important for runners.

First, is what I call "single-leg stance stability." Simply, strength in the muscles that stabilize the pelvis and femur. Typically, the external hip rotators are weak (think, knees collapsing inward with a walking lunge). Single-leg exercises such as step-ups, lunges, farmer's walk, and single-leg deadlifts (especially with off-set loads- weight on one side of the body only) are effective for developing single-leg stance stability.

Next, traditional bilateral (two legs) hip strengthening exercise are helpful for developing hip extension strength. These are your classic squat, deadlift, and sled pulls (my favorite).

Finally, as you are developing this hip strength, you want to increase the rate that which you can apply this new strength. That is, develop hip power or increase 'the rate of force development' since each stride takes a mere fraction of a second.

These power or 'speed strength' exercises increase the rate that you can develop force (see above chart and the effects of explosive training). Some effective exercises include: kettlebell swings and (or barbell) snatches, squat jumps, power skips, bounds, explosive sled pulls (using lighter weight).

Next, after you have enhanced the necessary physical attributes (hip mobility, ankle mobility, and hip strength), you will be able to address your running mechanics. Coming next....

1 comment:

Liz said...

sounds great. Working on the fun...especially skipping:) Great outside workout last week. Looking forward to fun in the park on Thurs. if the weather holds. Hope to see everyone there again.