Today I will be sharing the first set of exercises that I learned in physical therapy. You can check out this post to read about my gait analysis. These exercises are focusing on hip strength and stability. I’ll also be sharing some quick drills to help with my overstriding, and the stretching and piriformis release that I have been doing. Please read my disclaimer…I am sharing these because I think that they can help most runners, but if you are injured pleased consult with a medical professional before trying any of these.
I’ve been doing all the standing exercises barefoot because it helps to develop foot strength! And it’s more challenging to balance without shoes on.
The first exercise is focused on strengthening the abductors (the muscles on the outside of the hip). I learned this the last time I was in PT but realized I had been doing it slightly wrong. You should bend your outside knee slightly, and push into the wall/table that your bent knee is up against. You should feel it in the outside hip area of the leg that is on the ground. Push into the wall for 5 seconds, 10 times on each side.
The next exercise is also for hip stability and balance. It’s best if you have some sort of unstable surface to stand on. Balance on one foot and use a medicine ball to throw against something that will allow it to bounce back..at PT we have a net type thing but at home I just ask Rob to catch it and throw it back to me:) Another option is to just balance or do one-legged squats. I’ve been doing 30 on each foot.
Next up is the bridge with a ball that you can squeeze between your knees. This works the glutes and adductors. I’ve been doing 2 sets of 15 with a 5 second hold.
I’ve also been working on strengthening my adductors using a resistance band. I tied a band to the leg of my table and then made a loop that my foot goes through. Stand on one leg, loop inside foot through the band, and pull foot with band through in front of standing leg, 2 sets of 15 on each side.
My PT also has me doing two drills that should help with landing on my mid foot and avoid overstriding. They are ankle hops and jump squats. Both are really hard to take pictures of and I’m not really up for sharing videos of myself:) But they are pretty much how they sound.
For ankle hops, stand with feet hip width apart, and hop quickly without stopping in between, 2 sets of 30.
For squat jumps, place feet slightly wider than hips width apart, and jump up and back down into a squat, 3 sets of 10.
Finally, I’m also stretching and trying to relax my piriformis. I never really felt like stretching it did a whole lot but I am trying to be a good PT patient and follow their recommendations. These are two stretches I am doing- holding for 30 seconds each and completing 3 sets on each side.
I use a lacrosse ball to roll out my piriformis muscle. My PT also does deep tissue massage for it and ART when I am there. At home I cross my tight leg over the other leg so I can get deeper into the muscle, and sit on the lax ball, roll around and hold any spots that feel really tight.
The other stretch I am doing is for my adductors– again, 3 sets of 30 second holds on each side. I also move around a bit to get more of a stretch and also go down to my elbows.
As I get more exercises to add on I’ll share them, since so many of you seem interested in how I am working to fix all my running form issues! Besides, it seems like these are great exercises for any runner to do to stay strong and prevent injuries!
Have you tried any of these exercises before?
Have you found any other good ways to release the piriformis?