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Avoid hip and knee pain with these three exercises

Become a stronger runner and avoid common injuries

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These bodyweight hip exercises will make you a stronger, more efficient runner while helping you avoid common injuries or sore hips and knees. The hip and pelvic area, which includes the glutes, hamstrings and adductors, play a critical role in supporting your body weight and providing stability and balance while you run.

Strong hips can help you maintain great running form and will reduce stress on your knees and lower back. Hip strength will also help you generate more power and speed, allowing you to run faster and more efficiently. Start with these three exercises before adding weight and more complex lower leg movements to your strength routine.

Related: 5 Simple exercises you can do at home to improve your run split

Lateral lunge

Lateral lunges target hips, glutes, and thighs to boost strength and stability. Try it as part of a dynamic warmup before a run, or as part of a post-run stretching routine. It can also be incorporated into a regular strength training routine–it’s a great basic stretch to start with. Start with 10–15 reps on each side.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on hips.

Step to the side with one foot, keeping your feet pointing forward.

Bend your knee and lower your hips toward the ground, allowing your other leg to straighten; keep your weight on that heel and push through it to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.

Banded clamshells

Clamshells target the gluteus medius, a muscle in the hip that helps with both stability and range of movement. You can try this with an exercise band to add some resistance, but if it feels too intense, start without the band and add it in when you’ve gained some strength in this area.

Lie on your side with your knees bent and your feet together with an (optional) exercise band wrapped around your legs just above your knees.

Engage your core and squeeze your glutes to raise your top leg into the air, keeping your feet together. Only raise your leg high enough so that you’re using your glutes.

Lower your leg back to the starting position and repeat 10-15 times per side.

Related: Crowie’s killer ab routine – core and stability work with Ironman champion Craig Alexander

Bridge (also called hip or glute bridge)

This exercise helps you activate and engage your glutes and avoid putting extra stress on your hamstring and lower back area, which can also help with hip stability and ease of movement.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.

You may need to play around with the distance your heels are from your hips to really target the glute area. Squeeze your glutes in order to lift your hips toward the ceiling. Hold the position for a few seconds, then lower your hips back down. Repeat 10–15 times to start.

This story originally appeared on runningmagazine.ca