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Solving The Injury-Prevention Puzzle

  • By Matt Fitzgerald
  • Published Dec. 17, 2013
  • Updated Dec. 28, 2013 at 1:48 PM UTC
Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Second Piece: Corrective Strength Training

During my running comeback I spent an inordinate amount of time poring over abstracts of recent scientific studies on running injuries on MedLine. A few of these studies proved helpful to me. Among the most helpful studies I found was one showing that knee pain in runners is often linked to weakness in the hip abductors (the muscles that keep your pelvis from tilting laterally when you’re supported by only one leg) on the affected side. A simple test you can use to determine whether your hip abductors are weaker on one side than on the other is to perform a single leg squat with each leg. As you lower your butt toward the floor, eventually your thigh will rotate inward, swinging your hip outward, which is a sign that your hip abductors have become overwhelmed and need help from other muscles. If this compensatory action happens earlier on one side than on the other, that side is weaker and you are more prone to knee pain in the corresponding knee.

RELATED: Weak in the knees? Strength your hips!

When I did this test I found that my right hip abductors were weaker than my left ones, and sure enough my right knee was the one that gave me pain for three years. So I started to even out the strength of my hip abductors by doing single leg squats, step-ups, and other such exercises three times a week, challenging my right side more than my left so that the gap steadily closed. It worked. Try it.

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