Running hot tip: don't ignore your hips before hitting the pavement. According to Alison Freeman, an IRONMAN certified coach and USAT Level II endurance certified coach, this part of the body directly plays into your running form.
"Your hips are a key component of your contralateral (side-to-side) kinetic chain, which goes from one shoulder to the opposite ankle," Freeman explains. "They connect your core to your legs, and also incorporate your gluteus muscles. The hip must be both stable enough to properly load your leg and flexible enough to allow for full range of motion during your run stride."
Consider this piece of info another reason why properly stretching before running is so important — but simply touching your toes, or any sort of static stretching, isn't going to cut it.
"We've actually moved away from traditional static stretching before runs, as lengthening a 'cold' muscle can be counterproductive," Freeman explains.
Experts actually claim that static stretching prior to runs could set you up for injuries.
Instead, Freeman suggests muscle activation and dynamic stretching.
"Activation is a fancy way of saying that we want to prime your muscles for the movements they are about to do," Freeman explains. "Dynamic stretching prepares your body for the mobility that is needed for effective stride length, without compromising the elasticity that your muscles require for movement."
To work on hip mobility before a run, Freeman suggests adding these two moves to your dynamic stretching routine.
Lunge and Reach Back:
- Step forward with your right leg into a lunge, simultaneously reaching your arms up and back. Keep your pelvis tilted forward (the opposite of arching your back), so that you are stretching your hip flexor and not the top of your quadricep.
- Hold the stretch for a two-count. Then, bring your left leg forward and return to a standing position.
- Repeat on the left side.
- Complete five walking lunges on each side.
Low Lunge With Twist:
- Starting from a plank position on your hands, bring your right leg up between your hands into a low lunge.
- Reach up to the sky with your right hand. Then, place it back down and reach up to the sky with your left hand.
- Bring your right leg back to meet your left. Repeat the same steps on the left side.
- Complete five repetitions on each side.