The 5 Best Glute & Hip Exercises for Runners

Note: This article has been sourced from the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. Volume 43, number 2. This journal article has been summarised. Additions (videos) and simplifications have been undertaken to assist with viewer education and ease of understanding.

Strengthening the Correct Muscles

Weak hip & gluteal muscles lead to poor hip biomechanics, which can cause knee, hip, and back pain. By exercising to strengthen the gluteal and hip muscles that control how your hip moves, you can reduce risk of injury and improve efficiency.

The 2 key muscles to concentrate on are the gluteus maximus (the chief muscle on the back of your hip—your buttocks) and the gluteus medius (the main muscle on the side of your hip).   However, it is often difficult to strengthen these muscles without also strengthening a muscle called the tensor fascia lata, which is located toward the front of the hip. Too much activation of that muscle may result in injury by creating unwanted hip motion that may worsen knee, hip, or back pain.

This study’s goal was to discover which exercises used the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles the most, while minimizing the activation of the tensor fascia lata (and thus reducing risk of injury).

The researchers found that 5 specific exercises worked best: the clam, the single-leg bridge, hip extension while on both hands and knees (with the knee bent or straight), and the crab walk.

  • The Clam

  • Sidestep or Crabwalk

  • Single-leg bridge

  • Hip extension while on both hands & knees with bent knee

  • Hip extension while on both hands & knees with straight knee

Note: Please seek advice from your physiotherapist. He/she can help determine which of these exercises are best for you and customize a treatment program.

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