Hip Opener Yoga for Runners: A PT Approach

Dr. Chloe with 1 knee in front, the other leg extended back behind her on the floor in modified pigeon pose as a hip mobility for runners exercise

Welcome back to our limited series: Yoga for Runners led by Dr. Chloe!  This series explores how to practice different yoga poses to improve your running.  If you missed last week, be sure to check it out here!  It’s week 2 and we are so excited to talk about why hip mobility is so important for runners. Tight hips can be a major roadblock, hindering your stride length, glute activation, and even increasing your risk of injury. That’s why incorporating targeted hip openers into your routine is a game-changer.  If you’re looking to elevate your performance and longevity on the roads or trails, this is for you!

Why Hip Mobility for Runners Matters

Running is a high-impact activity that requires a seamless coordination of movements from head to toe. Your hips act as the central point.  It allows the smooth transfer of power from your core to your legs with each stride. When your hip mobility is limited, it can lead to a cascade of compensations throughout your kinetic chain.  This leads to poor form, decreased stride length, and increased strain on other joints and muscles.

Tight hips can also contribute to common running injuries such as IT band syndrome, patellofemoral pain, and even lower back issues. By improving your hip mobility, you can alleviate these potential issues.  You’ll find yourself running with greater ease, efficiency, and reduced risk of injury.

The Triplet: Targeted Hip Mobility

To address this crucial aspect of your running performance, we’ve designed a powerful triplet of hip openers for runners. This routine, crafted with a physical therapist’s expertise, targets the key areas that tend to tighten up from the repetitive motion of running.

Lizard Stretch

This deep hip opener targets the hip flexors, adductors, and glutes.  These three muscle groups can become tight from the constant forward motion of running. By gently stretching these areas, you’ll improve your stride length and reduce the risk of common running injuries like IT band syndrome.

right foot in front on the outside of the right hand, left leg straight back. Both hands are on the floor supporting Dr. Chloe's weight as she stretches her hip flexor, inner thigh, and groin area for hip mobility

Butterfly Stretch

Using a cushion to lift her pelvis a little bit, Dr. Chloe is sitting upright with her hands clasping her feet, knees out to the side, sitting tall for hip mobility

The butterfly stretch is a classic hip opener that targets the inner thighs and groin area. As runners, we often neglect these, leading to tightness that can limit our range of motion.  That limited mobility can contribute to knee and hip issues. This stretch will help you regain mobility and improve your overall running form.

Modified Pigeon Pose

Pigeon pose is an all time favorite hip opener in yoga, and for good reason. While the full pose can often be difficult for many people to achieve, this modified version is a gateway to getting you there!  It targets the deep hip rotators, which play a crucial role in stabilizing your hips during the repetitive motion of running. 

Dr. Chloe with 1 knee in front, the other leg extended back behind her on the floor in modified pigeon pose as a hip mobility for runners exercise

It’s much more accessible than regular pigeon and it will prepare you for the full yoga pose.  By improving mobility in these areas, you’ll enhance your overall hip stability and reduce the risk of compensatory injuries.

The Pre and Post-Test: Pigeon Pose

Dr. Chloe in full pigeon pose with her right shin parallel to her body, left leg straight behind her getting a deep stretch

To gauge your progress and ensure you’re targeting the right areas, we’ll bookend this routine with pigeon pose as a pre and post-test. This classic yoga pose provides a comprehensive assessment of your hip mobility.  You’ll easily be able to track your improvements and identify areas that may still need extra attention.  If you really struggle with pigeon, try doing standing pigeon as your pre and post test and work up to pigeon on the floor.

Watch The Full Follow Along Hip Mobility For Runners Video Here!

By incorporating this physical therapist-approved hip mobility routine into your training regimen, you’ll unlock a new level of running potential. Improved hip mobility translates to a more efficient stride, more power which means more speed!  Let’s couple that with reduced risk of injury, and ultimately, a more enjoyable and sustainable running experience.

So, lace up your shoes, roll out your yoga mat, and get ready to unleash the full potential of your hips with this targeted yoga routine for runners. Your body – and your running performance – will thank you.

Prevent Injuries and Recover Faster

Running puts immense stress on your body. If you’re looking for a full body program to keep you running all season long this is it.  MDRx Runner: Strength and Mobility focuses on improving flexibility, joint stability, and muscular balance to prevent common running injuries. And if you do get injured, the program accelerates recovery so you can get back on the roads or trails quickly.

One size does not fit all when it comes to training. MDRx Runner is fully customizable based on your running goals, experience level, injury history, and biomechanics. There are modifications for all levels.

This program was developed by us.  Physical Therapists who love exercise science and body mechanics.  We’ve seen many patients succeed with this programming so you can too!

Chloe demonstrating the Brettzel 1.0 as a ski exercise

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