Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /

Two best exercises for runners

Written by: Paul Kochoa, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CGFI


It seems like everyone is running nowadays.  One thing seems to be common with all these athletes: they all have weak hips.  I’ve covered the hips before in relation to knee problems, but now let’s talk about two great exercises for runners to target those oftentimes neglected muscles.

The muscle I’m talking about is, again, the gluteus medius, a deep hip muscles that abducts the leg (moves it out to the side) and provides stability to the pelvis when standing on one leg or running.  It contracts the most when the hip is extended, not flexed, meaning when the leg is in line with the trunk, like when you’re standing and not when you’re sitting.  So picture yourself standing, balance on one leg, and then move the other leg out to the side.  That’s done with the gluteus medius.  By the way, this means that those seated hip machines that I see so many women using in the gym is not targeting the muscle you think it’s working.  Why?  Because your hip is flexed in a seated position.  That hits a different muscle, one that doesn’t give your hip and leg the stability it needs to counteract running injuries…  Whoa!  There goes another gym dirty little secret…

You’ll need two things, a exercise band about 3 feet long and a small step, for two exercises: side-stepping with the band and the hip hike.

First, loop the band around  your feet (around the instep of both feet).  Stand up tall, then start stepping sideways keeping the tension in the band.  Don’t drag your feet along the ground, always lift your foot to step so the band doesn’t drag on the floor, and try and stay as tall as you can.  You’ve probably seen this exercise done before with the band around the thighs or ankles, but the most effective contraction of the gluteus medius is shown when the band is wrapped around the feet.  Go for about 20-30 feet in each direction and you should feel the burn in the hips.

Second, using just a small step, place your left foot on the step with the right foot off the step basically balancing on one leg.  Again, stay as tall as you can with your knees straight to target the correct muscle.  Now, slowly lower and raise the right side of your pelvis, which will lower and raise your right leg.  Keep your balance, do it slowly, and don’t let your right foot touch the ground for bonus points to really get that left hip muscle working.  Do 15-20 reps and repeat with the other side, 2-3 sets.

There you have it, the best two exercises for runners.  Have any other fave exercises? Don’t like these?  Have any questions?  If you would like more information or a demonstration of these exercises, please call Professional Physical Therapy and Training at 973-270-7417.  Our offices are located within the YMCA locations in Madison and Summit, NJ.  You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to visit with us.


Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid /