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Hip pain: 5 stretches to help keep your hips healthy and pain free

Sore hips, while common among triathletes, are difficult to diagnose and treat. Luckily 220 physio Emma Deakin knows the signs, symptoms and solutions for hip problems and injuries

To keep your hip healthy and injury free, there are lots of preventative measures you can take: stretching and using the foam roller on muscles we know get commonly tight and overworked, as well as strengthening the glutes and posterior muscles that help to stabilise the pelvis and take excessive load off the hip.

Here are the exercises:

Hamstring stretch

BENEFIT Helps with good hip positioning and reduces any alteration in biomechanics when running.

METHOD Lie on your back, with your spine in a neutral position. Hold the leg to be stretched behind the knee. Slowly straighten the leg until you feel a stretch in the back of the leg (if this is painful, then the hamstring may need a longer period of relative rest). Keep the back still in the initial start position. Hold for up to 30secs, until you start to feel the stretch ease off and repeat. You can use the other leg as a comparison, or take a picture to see progression. Repeat 4-6 times.

>>>Sort that hamstring injury


BENEFIT A clam works the deeper muscles of the glute that help to stabilise the pelvis and reduce hip-drop during running. 

METHOD With the heels together, raise the knee to work the glute. The pelvis should stay still throughout, with no rotation. There are many ways to progress the exercise with the leg in different positions, as well as adding the resistance of a band. Try to progress to 3 sets of 30.

ITB foam roller

BENEFIT Soft tissue release and trigger point work on the ITB helps to maintain good hip biomechanics.

METHOD Lie on your right side with the roller just under your hip bone. Straighten your right leg, support yourself using your arms and if needed the left leg. Roll from the hip down the outer side of your leg to the knee. Repeat on the other side.

Lateral side step with band

BENEFIT Strengthens the musculature around the outside of the hip, which prevents the knee dropping inwards on foot plant when running. 

METHOD Pop a piece of band around your ankles. Start in a semi squat position with slight tension on the band. Step the foot out sideways, so you’re pushing against the band. Keep your body facing forwards and shoulders level. Ten steps then repeat in the other direction.

Hip flexor

BENEFIT As with the hamstring above. 

METHOD In a forward lunge position, keep the pelvis facing forwards, and your chest up straight. You will be stretching the leg behind you. Slowly transfer your weight forwards, pushing the hip to be stretched forwards too. Hold for 5 x 30secs. You can increase the stretch by taking the arm up above your head on the side that you’re stretching.

Hip stretching tips

Stretching is part of your everyday routine as an athlete, but if you were to stretch every muscle that got worked in triathlon you’d be there for hours! Here are my top tips to make sure you get the best out of your stretching programme…

Make it specific – If you know you always get tight in a specific muscle group, target that and the muscles around it.

30secs + – There’s lots of research on timing of stretching. Over 30secs ensures that the muscle fibres are allowed to stretch and unwind.

Injury specific – After an injury has healed and you’re back training, don’t stop doing the stretches or exercises you were advised to do (this is when many people tend to get re injured).

Pre- and post-training – Most people stretch after training, but it’s just as important to stretch before to get your muscles in the optimum 
position to work.

S&C – Make sure you have a conditioning programme to complement your stretches.

Read our guide to hip pain, diagnosis and causes here


Tight hamstrings Q&A: how can I stretch them out?

How to prevent muscle cramp during exercise

Dave Scott’s strength and conditioning training plan for triathletes

Five essential stretches for triathletes to stay injury-free

3 strength and conditioning exercises to help you stay injury-free


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