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Run right.

Posted by on November 9, 2012

So Powerman Asian Duathlon Championship have just been done and dusted. I did alright, a little slower than I did last year, which was a bit funny considering the weather this year could not be more perfect for a long distance endurance multisport race. Cool, cloudy, with a bit of drizzle. I guess I just perform better in the burning Malaysian heat. ;)

Anyway, I was looking at some of my photos (thank you to all my dear photog friends who work tirelessly in the rain and sunshine to capture pictures of so many duathletes out there), and I am beginning to notice a trend in myself. I guess it is something I’ve noticed a while back but only today did it strike a light bulb in my head. I have something called a “hip drop” and a pretty obvious one at that. It’s not a good thing and I’ll tell you why after these visuals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There you have it, my very glamorous action pictures, if you may. :) Now I’ve highlighted in red the alignment of my hips when I run. Notice that in the first picture, my hips are aligned parallel to the floor. This is when my right foot is on the ground and my left foot is in mid air. This means my RIGHT HIPSTABILIZER MUSCLES are strong enough to support my one legged stance at this point in time.

Now the same cannot be said about my other side. From here on I shall call this my “dark side” (ala Kelly Clarkson). Notice how when I am supporting my stance on my left foot, my right hip is dropping. This is an indicator that I have weak LEFT HIP STABILIZER MUSCLES. Not good.

I’m going to steal a picture from this site, but I’ll reference it later.

This is a great picture of how the pelvis (hip bone) and glute medius (hip abductor muscle) looks when the hip drops.  To be honest, I winced when I was reading up about it. Because not only does this contribute to a higher risk of injuries to the knee joints, it also greatly reduces my body’s efficiency. From a biomechanical standpoint, a lot more energy is lost from trying to lift that hip up again to get ready for the next gait. Over a period of 2-4 hours of running, that can amount to a LOT of energy lost for nothing! I am now wallowing in a bit of self pity, thinking about how imperfect a runner I am. Sigh…

But fear not! It CAN be corrected! Just like most other injuries, or “imperfections” in any sport, strength training can and will go a long way.

After reading up a little bit on the issue, I’ve identified 2 specific muscles that require strengthening in my case:
1. Hip abductor muscles – the gluteus medius muscle, located at the top lateral side of your bum, is responsible for stabilizing your hips, and for lifting your legs up sideways i.e. leg abduction.
2. Hip external rotator muscles – the piriformis, quadratus femoris, and a bunch of other less common muscles, all located underneath your big bum muscle, and works to rotate your leg our externally (turning your foot to the outside).

These muscles can all be strengthened, and the exercises are quite simple too. The “clamshell” exercises is pretty good.

And lateral leg raises too.

So I hope this small tip can help you guys out! I, for one, am going to start working out my hips so my running photos can look even more epic ;)

Read this article for a more scientific explanation of the situation. They even provide free hip strengthening exercises here.

2 Responses to Run right.

  1. Olya Ku

    Hey! This is a great article, Karen! Let me know if I can share your post on my page http://www.facebook.com/runnersmy (with the link to your page of course!) Love the explanation and yeah.. cool pictures!

    • Karen

      Olya, sure! Great to hear u like it! :) And we should catch up sometime haven’t seen u in ages!

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