As most runners know, aches and pains are a common part of training.
However, according to a new study, the real culprit for overuse running injuries, such as Achilles tendonitis may have more to do with weakened hip muscles than how many miles run.
“Various studies have estimated that up to 70 percent of runners sustain an overuse running injury each year with more than 80 percent of those injuries occurring below the knee.” said lead author Reed Ferber, Assistant Professor and Director of the Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary.
Based on a literature review, it appears that foot pronation (how one steps) and inadequate hip muscle stabilisation are the top categories for injury. “Hip muscle weakness especially appears to lead to atypical lower extremity mechanics and increases forces on knees and feet while running.”
One of the studies analysed in the review suggested that after 4-6 weeks of strength training, 22 out of 24 runners experienced a significant decrease in pain and a 35-51 percent increase in hip abductor strength.
“These results suggest that hip strengthening rehabilitation programmes may be an effective way to lessen running overuse injuries,” said Dr Ferber.
He recommends performing hip abductor strengthening exercises to prevent injury. Individuals should progress up to three sets of 10 repetitions gradually to avoid muscle soreness.