After a few training runs I began experiencing some hip pain (trochanteric regional pain syndrome — here’s a link to Chapter 3 that talks about it), so I devised a rehab strategy to help out.
My rehab plan was designed to strengthen the muscles that decelerate the body as it lands from a jump as well as the muscles that control side-to-side shifting of body weight. These are the two types of forces that stress the muscles around the trochanter – the piriformis, iliotibial band, gluteus medius – and can lead to hip pain.
For me, incorporating these exercises into my routine on a regular basis has allowed me to continue with my training without pain and without even missing any of my training runs.
You might find my rehab strategy useful too. Even if you’re not a runner, you might have hip pain, iliotibial band syndrome, sacroiliac problems, or stress on the knee. Each of these local problems can likely be traced back to the same common cause — inadequate stabilization of the vertical forces of landing or the lateral forces of weight shift.
If you’d rather read the outline, here are the exercises I’ve been doing:
1. Forward weight drift
Basic level: Stand with your feet parallel and about 6 inches apart. Keeping you trunk straight and your entire vertical alignment intact, let your body weight shift forward over your toes as far as you can while still allowing your heels to remain on the floor. Hold for 5 seconds, then return to neutral.
Added difficulty: While your weight is shifted forward over your toes, also lift both arms straight in front of you and hold them in a horizontal position in front of you.
Extra added difficulty: Hold weights in your hands and raise them to a horizontal position in front of you.
2. Toe raise (Elèvé)
Basic level: Standing with feet parallel, rise on both toes, then lower.
Added difficulty: Lift one foot off the floor and use the strength of only one foot to rise. You can hold on for balance if you wish.
Extra added difficulty: Hold weights in your hands while rising on toes.
3. Toe pointing (Tendu)
Standing on the left leg, stretch the right foot to the side to a point at which the ball of the foot and toes are still on the floor. Then stretch the right foot further to the side, keeping the toes in contact with the floor, moving the foot as far as it can go while having the right toes still slightly touching the floor. Repeat on the other side. Can also be done with the feet parallel, stretching the foot to the front.
4. Knee bend (Plié)
Basic level: Bend the knees, and then return to vertical. Be sure that the hip joint, knee joint, and ankle all fold congruently.
Added difficulty: Plié on one foot. You can hold on for balance.
Extra added difficulty: Hold weight in your hands while performing the plié.
5. Forward pelvic shift
Basic level: Start lying on your back with your knees bent up and your feet flat on the floor. Stretch your knees out over your feet, lifting your pelvis off the floor. It’s as if you had a rope tied to your tailbone, and the rope pulls your pelvis in an upward and footward direction.
Added difficulty: Cross the right ankle over the left knee; perform the forward pelvic shift using only your left leg. Repeat on the other side.
Extra added difficulty: Place your feet up on a gym ball. Shift your pelvis up and forward, the same as in the forward pelvic shift. Keeping your pelvis elevated, draw the ball toward and away from you by bending and straightening the knees.
6. Plank pose
Lying face down, lift your body, supporting your weight on your elbows and feet. Engage your abdominals to keep your body straight. Maintain for 30-45 seconds.
7. Side-to-side shift
Basic level: Stand with your legs wide apart. Shift your pelvis to the right and left, keeping it level and facing front.
Added difficulty: At the end of each side-shift, lift one leg and balance on the opposite leg.
Extra added difficulty: Jump from side to side, landing on one foot and holding your balance.
You can also jump forward and back and practice landing your jump.
8. Isometric or theraband leg lifts
Isometric version: Standing on one leg, lift the other to the side, pressing against a wall. Continue to press out against the wall, stabilizing on the standing side. Also practice lifting leg to the front, pressing forward isometrically against the wall.
Theraband version: Tie a loop of theraband around both ankles, then lift one leg to the side, stabilizing on the standing side.
9. Leg squeeze
Basic level: Stand in a medium-wide stance. Squeeze your inner, upper thighs together. Hold 30-45 seconds.
Added difficulty: Practice the same motion standing on one leg. Hold on for balance. Use your gluteal muscles to draw your inner, upper thigh toward the midline.
Check out Chapter 5: I can talk myself out of anything
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