Are you a regular runner finding yourself with tedious pains after your runs?
Running, is known for high impact and stress it puts on your bones, muscles and connective tissue around the hip when taking part in this repetitive. It doesn’t matter what age you are, hip pain can occur in all runners. While it may start off mild, hip pain can become much more severe as time goes on if it is not treated properly. Therefore, it is important to take the proper precautions, reduce your training if you're experiencing running-related hip pain.
At the UFIT Clinic, one of the biggest groups of patients we see for injuries are competitive and social runners. Runners, more than most, have a single-minded devotion to their sport – heading out in rain or shine here in Singapore. Unfortunately, this devotion often leads to them “running through the pain” when they feel a niggle in their knees, or ankles. Eventually, this kind of attitude will lead to you ending up in physiotherapy with one of our therapists – and while we’re always happy to see you at the UFIT Clinic, we think you would probably prefer to be still out there jogging!
So how do you avoid this fate? It all starts with your hips!
When you think about it, running is really just a series of single leg hops, over and over again. If you do not have sufficient strength and stability in your pelvis and hips, this is going to make this single leg hop action unsteady and not very powerful. If this is the case, it will make you both less efficient as a runner, and also more likely to injure yourself – bad news for any runner, social or competitive!
First, let’s discuss performance: running is about moving from point A to Point B in a straight line, as quickly as possible. Any deviation from this straight line in your body is a waste of energy – you are bleeding power. If your hip and pelvis aren’t stable, this leads to a ‘rolling gait’, and your knees pointing inwards instead of straight ahead – a loss of straight line power. Over the course of a long run, these incremental losses will add up to quite a big waste of your stored energy levels, leaving you with a less impressive run-time than anticipated.
The second issue is injuries. Without hip and pelvic stability, your knees and ankles will roll inwards with every step. Eventually, this will lead to overuse stress on the cartilage on one side of the knee, or your patellar tendon, resulting in a painful chronic injury, making running painful, leading to many physiotherapy appointments, and potentially leading to surgery.
So how do I know if I have pelvic instability?
You can test yourself very simply.
1. Single Leg Hop Test: One easy way is to hop up and down in front of a mirror, watching your knee. Does your knee stay in line with your toes, or rotate inwards? Does your upper body stay straight and stable?
2. Wobble Lunge Test: If you have access to a wobble board, place it out in front of you about three feet away. Then, with a dowel across your shoulders (a broomstick will do), lunge forward, placing your lead foot on the wobble board. Again, are you able to keep your knees in line with your toes? Can you keep a strong, stable body position, or do you collapse to one side?
If your answer to either of these questions is ‘No’– I suggest you talk to a good personal trainer at UFIT, or a physiotherapist at the UFIT Clinic, before you commit to a regular running schedule. They should be able to assess your running and prescribe you some hip strengthening and pelvic stability exercises to ensure that you remain injury free, and also become a stronger, faster runner.
Do it for your running times, and do it for your knees!
About the Author
Declan Halpin has always maintained a strong sporting interest, and has previously worked as an Academy Physiotherapist for Crystal Palace Football Club (a professional football club in London, England), and as a Rehabilitation Coach for the Western Province Stormers Academy (a professional rugby club from Cape Town, South Africa). Declan is our Senior Physiotherapist at the UFIT Clinic heading up Singapore's only clinic that combines an international team of experts from multi-disciplinary backgrounds to ensure that your health is always at the forefront.