Hips pain after exercise

Summit Medical Group Web Site

You can do the first 3 stretches to begin stretching the muscles that run along the outside of your hip. You can do the strengthening exercises when the sharp pain lessens.

Stretching exercises

  • Gluteal stretch: Lie on your back with both knees bent. Rest the ankle on your injured side over the knee of your other leg. Grasp the thigh of the leg on the uninjured side and pull toward your chest. You will feel a stretch along the buttocks on the injured side and possibly along the outside of your hip. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
  • Iliotibial band stretch, standing: Cross your uninjured leg in front of the other leg and bend down and reach toward the inside of your back foot. Do not bend your knees. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Return to the starting position. Repeat 3 times.
  • Iliotibial band stretch, side-leaning: Stand sideways near a wall with your injured side closest to the wall. Place a hand on the wall for support. Cross the leg farther from the wall over the other leg. Keep the foot closest to the wall flat on the floor. Lean your hips into the wall. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.

Strengthening exercises

  • Straight leg raise: Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend the knee on your uninjured side and place the foot flat on the floor. Tighten the thigh muscle on your injured side and lift your leg about 8 inches off the floor. Keep your leg straight and your thigh muscle tight. Slowly lower your leg back down to the floor. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Prone hip extension: Lie on your stomach with your legs straight out behind you. Fold your arms under your head and rest your head on your arms. Draw your belly button in towards your spine and tighten your abdominal muscles. Tighten the buttocks and thigh muscles of the leg on your injured side and lift the leg off the floor about 8 inches. Keep your leg straight. Hold for 5 seconds. Then lower your leg and relax. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Side-lying leg lift: Lie on your uninjured side. Tighten the front thigh muscles on your injured leg and lift that leg 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 centimeters) away from the other leg. Keep the leg straight and lower it slowly. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Wall squat with a ball: Stand with your back, shoulders, and head against a wall. Look straight ahead. Keep your shoulders relaxed and your feet 3 feet (90 centimeters) from the wall and shoulder’s width apart. Place a soccer or basketball-sized ball behind your back. Keeping your back against the wall, slowly squat down to a 45-degree angle. Your thighs will not yet be parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then slowly slide back up the wall. Repeat 10 times. Build up to 2 sets of 15.
  • Clam exercise: Lie on your uninjured side with your hips and knees bent and feet together. Slowly raise your top leg toward the ceiling while keeping your heels touching each other. Hold for 2 seconds and lower slowly. Do 2 sets of 15 repetitions.
  • Side plank: Lie on your side with your legs, hips, and shoulders in a straight line. Prop yourself up onto your forearm with your elbow directly under your shoulder. Lift your hips off the floor and balance on your forearm and the outside of your foot. Try to hold this position for 15 seconds and then slowly lower your hip to the ground. Switch sides and repeat. Work up to holding for 1 minute. This exercise can be made easier by starting with your knees and hips flexed toward your chest.
  • The plank: Lie on your stomach resting on our forearms. With your legs straight, lift your hips off the floor until they are in line with your shoulders. Support yourself on your forearms and toes. Hold this position for 15 seconds. (If this is too difficult, you can modify it by placing your knees on the floor.) Repeat 3 times. Work up to increasing your hold time to 30 to 60 seconds.

As I was lying on the couch, acutely aware of where my trochanter protrudes on my femur. I thought: ‘I should write my little friends (you!) a note about bursitis’. I have had some flare ups with the ol’ ‘B’ word but I can generally keep the pain pretty short-lived because I know what to stay away from. And if you have bursitis, I think you should know, too!

Hip bursitis, and more specifically trochanteric bursitis, occurs when the cushion between the hip bone and muscles of the thigh becomes inflamed,

Acute episodes of bursitis need never become chronic. Just stop pushing on the bursa! The bursa is a soft little pillow that cushions the connection between a bony point on your thigh bone (the trochanter) and the tissues of the outside of the thigh. And if your thigh bone squishes the bursa, it becomes inflamed; hence the ‘-itis’ that gets suffixed onto the backside of bursa…

How do you squish the bursa? The bursa is easily squished when you externally rotate the thigh or repeatedly rub the trochanter against the bursa once inflamed. External rotation crams the greater trochanter against the bursa squeezing the life out of it. That’s fine when the bursa is happy but when it’s not happy you need to avoid squishing, smushing and otherwise irritating the bursa.

Here are some things you can do to avoid externally rotating the thigh.

  1. Don’t cross your legs with one ankle dropped over the opposite knee.
  2. Do sit with the legs together, knees touching. If you can cross the legs and smush the inner thighs together you will still be avoiding external rotation and you could be internally rotating which will pull the thigh bone away from the bursa–aaahhhh, sweet relief…. (think piriformis stretch for the professionals out there)
  3. Walk with your feet pointed straight ahead: no duck feet. Duck feet externally rotate the hip and smush the bursa
  4. Perform exercises that internally rotate the hip. Lie on your back, feet hip-width apart and push the knees towards each other. You can do an isometric push here.
  5. Another exercise: Lie on your side, bottom leg bent, top leg straight. Now lift the top leg to just below hip height. Then bring the entire inside of the foot back down to touch the floor (heel to big toe knuckle)
  6. Sleep on your back with your ankles crossed and knees rotated inward. Okay, so you might not last the entire night that way but it is a great way to get off that bursa!
  7. Do not move the leg to the side of your body past the hip bone. (No hip abduction for the professionals…) You will have to adopt a demur lady-like position in everything you do until the pain subsides.
  8. Do not sit cross-legged.
  9. If you are really flared up you’ll get discomfort with walking for a period of time or otherwise moving the trochanter against the bursa. If you are doing something that hurts, I would recommend not doing that.

Does this make sense? Each and every time you externally rotate the thigh or carry the thigh to the outside of the body you ‘smush’ the bursa. Since the bursa is inflamed that kind of motion is only going to tick it off further. So…you’ll get relief extremely quickly if you can just remember to STOP SMUSHING THE BURSA.

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions! K

Home Remedies for Hip Pain

When you get back to your old activity level, how do you know if you’re working too hard? Any sharp or shooting pain is not a good sign, adds Humphrey. Also, when hip pain comes during exercise or another activity and lingers for hours or days later, don’t keep going. It’s normal to have some muscle soreness a day after exercising, but the soreness should go away as you move throughout the day.

Strectches That Ease Hip Pain

Stretching and exercising can also help, as long as you’re not experiencing too much pain when you do them. The Arthritis Foundation recommends the following stretch after walking:

Once you’ve cooled down by walking at a slow pace for five minutes, stand with your right side facing a wall. Put your right hand against the wall and slightly bend your right elbow. Then pick up your left foot and cross it over your right foot. As you keep your right leg straight and your left leg slightly bent, slowly move your right hip toward the wall and hold the stretch without bouncing. You should feel the stretch in your right outer hip and thigh.

RELATED: 10 Ways to Relieve Daily Hip Pain

To repeat the stretch on the opposite side, turn so that your left side is facing the wall. Cross your right foot over the left and lean in toward the wall with your left hip, being sure to keep your left leg straight and your right leg slightly bent.

Exercise for Hip Pain Relief

Exercise increases the range of motion in your joint and strengthens the muscles around your hip, but the type of exercise you choose is very important when you have hip pain. To protect your hip joint, these exercises are the preferred choices, according to the Arthritis Foundation:

  • Walking in a shallow pool
  • Walking on a flat surface, whether it’s outside or on a treadmill
  • Swimming (being sure to kick gently)
  • Taking a bike ride or riding a stationary bike
  • Doing yoga
  • Strengthening your upper body

What to Avoid With Hip Pain

It’s best to skip these activities when you have hip pain:

  • Running
  • Exercises that involve moving your leg away from your body, which may include some yoga poses and Pilates exercises
  • Doing squats with heavy weights (although squatting using a wall for support or while holding a bar without weights across your shoulders is okay)

When hip pain interferes with your daily life, it’s good to know that there are things you can do to get relief at home.

Hip Exercises to Ease Arthritis Pain: How Exercise Helps Your Hips, and 7 Daily Exercises to Try


Let’s get this important misconception out of the way: Done correctly, working out is not going to exacerbate your hip pain or make your arthritis worse. But not exercising can make your arthritis worse, which is why doctors recommend exercises as an important part of your arthritis treatment plan, whether you have osteoarthritis or an autoimmune, inflammatory form such as rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.

Here’s what’s happening in your hip when you have arthritis, and why exercising and moving more helps relieve pain and stiffness.

How Arthritis Affects Your Hips

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint — the “ball” is the top of your thigh bone, and it sits in a “socket” that’s formed by part of your pelvic bone. Slippery tissue called cartilage covers the bone surface and helps cushion the joint. “Cartilage creates a low-friction environment so you can move easily and without pain,” explains Wayne Johnson, MD, orthopedic surgeon and assistant clinical professor at the University of Oklahoma.

In osteoarthritis (OA), the cartilage in the hip joint gradually wears down, which over time leads to pain, stiffness, swelling, and lack of mobility, says Dr. Johnson, who is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Everyday tasks — like bending over to tie a shoe, getting up from a chair, or going for a walk — become more challenging and painful. The lifetime risk of developing osteoarthritis of the hip is 25 percent.

With rheumatoid and other forms of inflammatory arthritis, the immune system mistakenly attacks a protective lining in your joint called the synovium, and destroys cartilage. Though RA tends to affect smaller joints first (such as those in your hands and feet), symptoms can spread to both your hips as the disease progresses.

How Exercise Helps Hip Arthritis

Think of your hip joint like a bicycle, says Dr. Johnson. The muscles around the hip are the strong, supporting frame of the bike. The joint — especially one with arthritis — is like the weaker, flimsier chain. A strong frame takes some of the stress off a weaker chain.

The same is true in your hip. “We lose muscle strength as we age,” explains Dr. Johnson. “And any excess weight puts even more stress on a joint that’s becoming weaker due to arthritis.”

Exercise, then, helps strengthen the muscles that support your hip, which takes some of the load off on the worn-out, weaker joint. “That shift can translate to a decrease in pain and stiffness, easier motion and improved flexibility,” he says.

Exercise also help enhance balance, boost energy, improve sleep, and control weight. And in people with mild to moderate hip OA, a study published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases found those who exercised for one hour at least twice a week for 12 weeks were 44 percent less likely to need hip replacement surgery six years later, compared with those who did not exercise.

The types of exercise that can help ease arthritis pain may include:

  • Range-of-motion and stretching exercises (to help maintain and improve flexibility)
  • Strengthening exercises (to work your muscles a little harder)
  • Aerobic exercise, like swimming or biking (to improve cardiovascular health and control your weight)
  • Other activities like yoga and tai chi or even gardening and walking the dog.

Precautions to Keep in Mind Before Exercising with Hip Arthritis

If you’re new to exercise, it’s always smart to first talk to your doctor. “It’s important to consider the current limits of your joints, and work within those limits,” explains Lauren Shroyer, MS, director of product development at the American Council on Exercise. Your doctor or physical therapist can make sure the exercises are safe for you and help you gain strength, without exacerbating inflammation or aggravating joint pain, she says. Likewise, if you’ve had surgery on your hip, get guidance from your doctor or physical therapist on what hip exercises are safe for you.

More tips to help protect your joints:

Start slowly. Ease your joints into exercise if you haven’t been active for a while, say experts. Push too hard too fast, and you can overwork your muscles and worsen joint pain. Go easy at first, then increase the length and intensity of your work out as you progress.

Move gently. Warm up your muscles with five to 10 minutes of stretching at the start of every exercise activity, says Dr. Johnson; and do it again at the end. Don’t force any stretches; keep your movements slow and easy. With strength training, begin with fewer reps or lower weight, and build up gradually.

Stop if your hip (or anything else) hurts. “Listen to the pain,” says Shroyer. Take a break when your joints start to ache; or you feel any new joint pain, it’s time to stop. Talk to your doctor about what pain is normal and when it’s a sign of something more serious.

Stretch every day. If you have a flare of RA or an increase in OA pain, you should still stay active, says Dr. Johnson. Some simple stretching may diminish some of the pain.

Exercises to Help Relieve Hip Arthritis Pain

The following hip exercises were recommended by Shroyer at ACE and Dr. Johnson from the AAOS:

Hip Exercise: Clock Tap

Improves balance and stability, and strengthens muscles in your hips and legs

  • Stand next to a wall or door frame for support.
  • Balance on right foot; hold on to wall or door frame to stay steady, if needed. Keep your knee straight over your ankle, with a slight bend.
  • Tap your left foot around your right foot, as if your right foot is the centerpiece on a clock, and your left is touching numbers on a clockface. Start at 12 o’clock, then tap at 11, 10, and 9.
  • Retrace the numbers back to 12; then tap 1 and 2, and retrace back to 12.
  • Repeat the sequence four times; then complete with the opposite foot.

Tip: Stay within a comfortable and stable range of motion when tapping “around the clock,” says Shroyer. If your knee starts to shift over as you tap for the 9 spot, you may be past your range. As you get stronger, you may be able to reach further on each side.

Hip Exercise: Standing Iliotibial Band Stretch

Stretches the outside of your hip

  • Stand next to a wall for support.
  • Cross the leg that is closest to the wall behind your other leg.
  • Lean your hip toward the wall until you feel a stretch at the outside of your hip. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
  • Cross the leg that is further from the wall behind your other leg.
  • Repeat on the opposite side; then repeat the entire sequence four times.

Tip: Don’t lean forward or twist at the waist.

Hip Exercise: Knee to Chest

Stretches your buttocks

  • Lie on your back on the floor with your legs extended straight out.
  • Bend one knee and grasp your shinbone with your hands.
  • Gently pull your knee toward your chest as far as you’re comfortable.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side, then pull both legs in together. Repeat the entire sequence four times.

Tip: Keep your lower back pressed into the floor.

Hip Exercise: Hamstring Stretch

Stretches the back of your thigh and behind your knee

  • Lie on the floor with both knees bent.
  • Lift one leg off of the floor and bring the knee toward your chest. Clasp your hands behind your thigh below your knee.
  • Straighten your leg and then pull it gently toward your head until you feel a stretch. (If you can’t clasp your hands behind your leg, loop a towel around your thigh. Grasp the ends of the towel and pull your leg toward you.)
  • Hold for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on the other side; then repeat the entire sequence four times.

Tip: Don’t pull at your knee joint.

Hip Exercise: Hip Extension

Strengthens your buttocks

  • Lie on your stomach on a firm, flat surface with a pillow under your hips. Keep your head, neck, and upper body relaxed.
  • Bend one knee 90°.
  • Lift your leg straight up.
  • Slowly lower your leg down to the floor, counting to 5.
  • Do 8 reps; then complete the exercise on the other side.

Tip: Begin with 8 reps, using only your body weight; and progress to 12, recommends Dr. Johnson. When that becomes easier, add ankle weights in one-pound increments. Each time you increase the weight, start again at 8 reps, working back up to 12.

Hip Exercise: Sit-and-Stand

Increases mobility and strengthens leg, core, and back muscles

  • Stand in front of sturdy chair that won’t move, feet planted on the floor about hip-distance apart.
  • Press your hips back and bend your knees a little to lower yourself into a seated position.
  • Then tip forward from the hips, push through your feet and up with your legs to a standing position.
  • Repeat the sequence 3 times.

Tip: Gradually build up to 5 or 10 reps, says Shroyer: “Sitting and standing is essential movement pattern you want to stay strong in.”

Hip Exercise: Bodyweight Squat

Progression from the sit-and stand to help strengthen thighs and buttocks

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-distance apart, or a little wider. If needed, hold on to something stable, like the back of sturdy chair or kitchen sink.
  • Keep your chest lifted and shift your weight back into your heels while slowly pushing your hips back, as is you were sitting down into a chair.
  • Keep your feet flat and lower yourself as far as you’re comfortable (such as a quarter or halfway down to where a chair would be).
  • Push through your heels and bring your body back up to standing.
  • Repeat the sequence 3 times; gradually build up to more reps.

Tip: Keeping your feet a little wider than shoulder-distance apart is better for balance when you are struggling with hip pain, says Shroyer.

  • Daily Range of Motion Exercises to Help Arthritis Pain
  • Arthritis Flare-Ups: What Causes Them and Exactly What to Do When You Have One
  • Heat Therapy for Arthritis: Simple Ways to Do It at Home

3 Best Stretches for Hip Bursitis

Trochanteric (or hip) bursitis is a painful condition that occurs as the result of inflammation in the bursa. The bursa is a fluid-filled, jelly-like sac that minimizes friction in joints and between other moving tissues in your body. When it becomes inflamed, it may cause pain and stiffness. By maintaining strength and flexibility, however, you can reduce the friction that causes your pain. Here are a few of the best stretches for hip bursitis.

Stretches for Hip Bursitis

By Anatomography (en:Anatomography (setting page of this image)) , via Wikimedia Commons

Standing Iliotibial Band Stretch

Cross the leg that is uninjured in front of the injured leg. Without bending your knees, bend forward and reach toward the inside of the back foot. Hold this position for approximately 15 to 30 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat three times.

Side-Leaning Iliotibial Band Stretch

Stand beside a wall with your injured side closest to the wall. Place one hand on the wall for support. Cross the leg on the uninjured side over the leg next to the wall. Keep the other foot flat on the floor and lean your hips against the wall. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat three times.

Gluteal Stretch

Lie on your back on a comfortable surface with both knees feet. Rest the ankle of the injured side on the other knee. Keep your other foot flat. Grasp your thigh on the uninjured side and pull toward your chest. This should cause you to feel a stretch along the buttocks on the injured side. You may also feel the stretch in your hip. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat three times.

Treatment for Hip Bursitis

If these exercises do not help alleviate your hip pain, schedule an appointment with your Denver physical therapist. At Denver Physical Medicine, we combine stretching and strengthening exercises with other types of treatment to strengthen your body and ease pain and discomfort. To schedule a consultation, please contact us today by calling 303-757-7280.

You can begin stretching your hip muscles right away by doing the first 2 exercises. Make sure you feel just a mild discomfort during the stretches and not sharp pain. You may do the last 3 exercises when the pain is gone.

  • Hip flexor stretch: Kneel and then put one leg forward. Keep your foot flat on the floor. Flatten your lower back and lean your hips forward slightly until you feel a stretch at the front of your hip. Try to keep your body upright as you do this. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times with each leg.
  • Quadriceps stretch: Stand at an arm’s length away from the wall with your injured side farthest from the wall. Facing straight ahead, brace yourself by keeping one hand against the wall. With your other hand, grasp the ankle on your injured side and pull your heel toward your buttocks. Don’t arch or twist your back. Keep your knees together. Hold this stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Heel slide: Sit on a firm surface with your legs straight in front of you. Slowly slide the heel of the foot on your injured side toward your buttock by pulling your knee toward your chest as you slide the heel. Return to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Straight leg raise: Lie on your back with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend the knee on your uninjured side and place the foot flat on the floor. Tighten the thigh muscle on your injured side and lift your leg about 8 inches off the floor. Keep your leg straight and your thigh muscle tight. Slowly lower your leg back down to the floor. Do 2 sets of 15.
  • Resisted hip flexion: Stand facing away from a door. Tie a loop in one end of a piece of elastic tubing and put it around the ankle on your injured side. Tie a knot in the other end of the tubing and shut the knot in the door near the floor. Tighten the front of your thigh muscle and bring the leg with the tubing forward, keeping your leg straight. Return to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 15.

When it comes to which elements of your stride you can improve, your hips don’t lie. That’s because hip flexors—the muscles that allow flexion at the hip joint—play a huge role in fluid running, and a set of tight ones can really mess with your mechanics.

“The iliopsoas is the strongest group of muscles in the hip flexors, connecting the spine to the femur, and it’s what helps contract and pull the thigh toward the torso, allowing you to bring your knee toward your chest as you run,” explains Amanda Nurse, an elite marathoner, running coach, and certified yoga instructor in Boston.

When running, you’re regularly shortening that muscle, never lengthening it; this can lead to imbalances. Sitting all day (think: desk job, travel) can make matters worse. “The more time we spend sitting, the more the iliopsoas shortens,” says Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist in Darien, Connecticut.

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“The shorter that muscle, the shorter your stride becomes—and that throws off your natural gait, which can create compensations that lead to weaknesses, imbalances, and injury in the muscles that work to move us forward and stabilize us as we run.” That’s why it’s crucial, now more than ever, to give your hips some TLC.

“Never before has strength-training, stretching, and mobility work been more important for runners,” Holland says. “All day, we do the unnatural—sitting—and then we try to do the natural—running—and our bodies aren’t ready for it.”

In order to run more efficiently (and without pain), strategically opening and strengthening your hip flexors needs to be part of your running routine. The easiest place to start is with active warmup drills that are often underrated and underutilized, Holland says.

“Two to three minutes of high knees, butt kicks, skipping, and running backward will open up the hips in the front, side, and back planes of motion,” he explains.

Holland also suggests doing strength work in different planes of motion to keep all the muscles in and around your hip flexors, especially your glutes, firing correctly.“You can’t have good hip flexion if your glutes are tight or weak,” Nurse says, “so it’s super important that you’re always stretching and strengthening the front of your hip flexor and the back, which are the glute muscles.”

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Unilateral exercises like step-ups and single-leg toe touches are particularly effective at strengthening the glutes, while walking lunges, lateral lunges, air squats, and jump squats will zero in on all the muscles surrounding the hips. Whether you’re at the gym or heading out for (or back from!) a run, these five moves will strengthen and open your hips, keep them loose long-term, and not only make you a better runner, but make running feel better to you.

Below, Nurse shares her five favorite hip stretches for runners. Do them after a run or on an off day.

1. Crescent Lunge Knee-Up

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Start in high lunge with left foot forward, knee bent at 90 degrees, hips square, and toes facing forward. Lift arms straight up as you stand and draw right knee toward chest. Return to starting position. Complete 10 reps, then repeat on opposite leg.

What it does: Strengthens glutes (especially the gluteus medius) and hip flexors.

2. Full-Range Figure Four

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Sit upright with knees bent, hands resting behind you. Cross left ankle over right knee. Let right knee travel out to the right, then back to center. Slowly move right knee through a full range of motion, then hold for five breaths when you feel a good stretch. Repeat on the opposite leg.

What it does: Opens hip joints and stretches glutes.

3. Low Lunge Variation

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Start in a low lunge with left foot planted, knee bent to 90 degrees, and right knee on the floor. Place palms flat on each side of left foot. Untuck right toes and lift right arm above head as you lean to left side. Hold for five deep breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.

What it does: Strengthens quads and hips, lengthens psoas.

4. One-Legged Bridge Lift and Lower

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Lie faceup with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, arms resting at sides. Press into heels and engage glutes to lift hips. Transfer weight to left leg and extend right leg straight out for five breaths. Inhale as you lower right leg to hover over floor for five breaths, then exhale as you lift it back up. Perform 8 reps, then repeat on opposite leg.

What it does: Activates glutes and lengthens and strengthens hip flexors.

5. Skating Squat

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Stand with legs just wider than hip-width apart. Send hips back and bend at knees to lower into a squat. Shift weight to right leg as you rise up to standing and extend left leg back (like you’re gliding on skates) while tightening your glutes. Return to squat and repeat on opposite leg. Continue alternating for 60 seconds.

What it does: Strengthens glutes and strengthened hip flexors.

Ashley Mateo Ashley Mateo is a writer, editor, and UESCA-certified running coach who has contributed to Runner’s World, Bicycling, Women’s Health, Health, Shape, Self, and more.

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