Are you a hippy runner? I’m not talking about Woodstock, but a term I use to describe runners without enough junk in their trunk. Hippy runners are easy to find. Chances are you’ve seen them without knowing. In fact, you may even be one. Hippy runners lack general core and hp strength, often displayed as a smashing of their belt line from side to side and a compensatory upper body shift to maintain balance.
Generally we’ll find this in our young female athletes, as they fight to grow into their body. Young runners are not the only susceptible athletes, though. Runners who are fairly new to the sport tend to lack the general strength to stabilize their bones while running. Hip weakness can be linked back countless injuries and even slower running. Think of it this way: You have these huge powerhouse muscle groups (core, glutes). If they are under developed (young runners) or weak (mostly everyone else), they can’t perform their duties during the running motion.
What does a hippy runner look like?
I’m all about analogies.
If you’re going to move you would likely ask for help (although most people are ‘unavailable’ whenever you mention “So, I’m moving…”). You (metaphorical small muscle groups) have no problem moving boxes or the lighter items, but for those heavy pieces (furniture, appliances, etc) you would love some help from your stronger, bigger, friends (metaphorical glutes). They decide to stiff you, leaving you (the smaller muscle groups) to do all the work. What happens? You are over extended and worked. For running sake, this happens day after day, run after run.
In a previous article, I discussed how muscle imbalance develops. It’s worth understanding why running more isn’t an answer, but more of brushing weakness under the carpet.
We’re really looking to strengthen everything inside this box below. A term we use in physical therapy is proximal stability for distal mobility. It’s a fundamental principle that applies to both sport and life. In order to generate force distally (at your foot) you need to be strong proximally (your hips and low back). Another analogy? Sure. Think about playing tug-o-war. One person is on ice (no stability) vs someone on land (improved stability). There’s no doubt that the person with better stability will be able to generate more force through their arms and the rope.