Running comes from the hips
At Running Solutions we have a lot of experience in working with elite marathon runners. If you look at Wilson Kipsang or Dennis Kimetto during their marathons, you can immediately see that they have a different running style than most recreational runners. They fly over the streets as if they hardly touch the ground. It seems as if they effortlessly run more than 20km/h.
We often get the question from runners about how they can run better and they compare themselves with these elite runners. What is the biggest difference in walking technique and what can you do yourself?
We often hear that you have to focus on the foot landing, because top runners would land more on the midfoot. This should then be translated to the recreation runners. However, this is not the main difference and we believe that foot landing should never have the focus in your training. Foot landing is a result of improving other variables, a high stide frequency or good hipstability.
In this article we will focus on what the hip should do while running and how you can train it yourself. The stability of your entire running starts in the pelvis/hip and not in the foot. The foot is only the end of the chain and not the beginning.
Where does it go wrong?
During running, many forces are transferred from the legs to the trunk and vice versa. These forces all come along the hip. Many runners can not translate these forces well because of the way they use their body. For example, they have insufficient mobility in the hip or a poorly developed body feeling, which means that they have little control over the way they move.
If that is the case, the hip can not perform its function to stabilize the body and you can not deliver forward force. As a result of this loss you compensate in your movement and the chance of injuries increases.
You have to feel before you can improve!
It all starts with feeling how your body works. You have to feel which muscles are active or not. What function do the muscles execute? If you are aware of the muscles you can also use them. To gain insight into your posture and whether you use the muscles properly, you can do the following test:
Vertical compression test:
While standing, let someone stand behind you with hands on your shoulders. Let this person push you straight down. If you collapse in your lower back or hip, this means that your hips are out of balance and you have a bad posture.
You can counteract collapse by improving your posture. You do this by following the steps below:
1. Put your feet on hip width and spread the weight evenly over the forefoot and heel, 2. Do not lock your knees, 3. Tilt your pelvis slightly backwards so you take the middle position of the pelvis. 4. Lift your sternum slightly, 5. Stretch your body in the length.
If you have done this well you are now standing upright and you will no longer collapse in the back / hip in the vertical compression test.
Do you have trouble with this exercise? Then try starting with a pelvic tilt while laying down. You do this as follows:
Lie down on the back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Now tilt your pelvis back, here the lower back is pushed into the ground. Then tilt your pelvis forward, making the lower back hollow. Repeat the movement 10 times.
Which movements and muscles are limited?
You have to test this just like your posture! In this article we restrict ourselves to the mobility of the hip. We test this with the following test:
Execution: Lie down on the back, pull one of the knees towards you and let the other lie down relaxed. The knee that you pull towards you should come to the rib cage. The knee of the stretched leg should remain flat on the surface.
If 1 or both movements are limited, it is most likely due to too much sitting. This causes shortened hip flexors and inactivity in the hip stabilizers. If you want to improve the walking position, the length of the hip flexors and extensors is extremely important.
We then have to test whether you are using the hip stabilizers. You do this as follows.
Stand on one leg in front of a mirror, then bend the knee to about 100 degrees in the knee and then come back up. Do you see the knee making lateral movements during this movement and / or does the hip drop? Then you can assume that you have insufficient stability in your hip!
How do you improve this?
It is important to properly and regularly deal with the weaknesses that you have found with the above tests. You have to change your patterns. The only way that can be done with a lot of practice.
To begin with, it is important to get the muscle length in order. For this we use 2 exercises. You have to do this daily.
- Lunge hipflexor stretch
Execution: Keep the trunk straight while you move the pelvis forwards and backwards. The trunk remains the whole exercise upright. It is important that the movement goes backwards with the inhalation and the movement forward with an exhalation.
Repetitions: 10 breaths each side.
- Hamstring stretch
Startposition: Lying down on the back with one leg straight and the other leg with the knee lifted to the chest that you hold with both hands.
Execution: Stretch the leg that is lifted to the chest until the hamstring is tangibly stretched. Then come back to the bent position. It is important that the stretch of the leg is accompanied by an exhalation and bending of the leg with an inhalation.
Repetitions: 10 breaths each side.
Now that you are working on muscle length, the second part is muscle activation, and especially the hip stabilizers. You do this by following the hip stability program. In addition to that program can apply in a number of simple exercises in your daily life.
Tip 1: Stand regularly on one leg with a slightly bent knee. For example, while brushing your teeth or standing in line for a cup of coffee.
Tip 2: Every time you sit down on a chair, sit down and sit down like a squat. Is this very easy? Then do it on one leg!