Our ability to walk, run, stand, and get from point A to B using our legs have become routine for most of us that we sometimes forget just how fortunate we are to be able to do those things. And when a leg injury creeps up on us or suddenly occurs, it puts us at a halt and sets us back from our daily tasks. A woman who was training for her marathon experienced this lower body constraint first hand, and she’ll tell you just how important it is to incorporate strength training and stretching in your everyday life.
Hip Bridges Helped Megan Recover from A Leg Injury
Megan Harrington who is writer and RRCA certified running coach from New York was shy of six weeks before her big day of running the prestigious NYC marathon. Leading up to this event, Megan had been diligently training and said, “I had a 20-mile run in the bag and my workouts we solid.” With a total distance of 26.2 miles to run on the big day, she needed to put in a second 20-miler in her training as part of the preparation. Doing so is what caused her leg injury.
She explains, “I decided on a destination run that followed a point-to-point course. Since the shoulder of the road was cambered, my right leg ended up being a smidge higher than my left for the entire three-hour run. That leg discrepancy, along with an accumulated training fatigue and weak glute muscles, had me limping through the next few runs.”
Megan was desperate to recover and opting out of the marathon was not an option for her. When she visited her physical therapist, she was recommended to do hip bridges in a set of 10 each day for 30 days to stabilize her tight hamstring. And guess what? It worked like magic!
Along with that exercise and additional rest days, the tightness in Megan’s legs disappeared, and she was able to complete her marathon and finish strongly too.
What This Exercise Does and Why It Works
“The hip bridge is a monster of a move, working your entire core, including the gluteus and abdominal muscles that help stabilize the surrounding muscles and the spine. It also provides a great hamstring stretch that you can feel running the length of the back of your upper thigh while you’re in the elevated position.” – Megan Harrington
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Michelle Roots from Core Condition further explains that “Not only is it great for firming the glutes, but the bridge is also important for improving core stabilization while the hips are extending. This is very important in the prevention of lower back pain because the lumbar spine must be stabilized during lower body extension to reduce strain on the lower back.”
How to Perform the Hip/Glute Bridge Properly
No equipment is required to perform this exercise. It can be made more challenging with or without adding equipment as well. See the instructions and videos below for the full demonstration.
Start by lying on the floor face up with arms to the side, knees bent, and heels on the ground. Lift your hips off the ground until knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line while squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. After holding for 2-3 seconds, slowly lower your hips back to the ground and allow it to slightly touch the ground before completing another repetition. Do two sets of 8 to 10 repetitions of this exercise about three times a week to start seeing results.
Caution: Be careful not to hyper-extend your back as you reach the top of the movement.
Few Other Ways to Perform the Glute Bridge (Added Difficulty)
Single Leg Glute Bridge
This version works one side of the glutes at a time by lifting the other leg off the ground. This variation will work your back and hamstrings a lot more than the standard glute bridge.
Ball Glute Bridge
This variation is excellent for upping the intensity of the regular glute bridge by adding some elevation. Start on your back with your shoulders and head on the floor and both feet on the ball. Drive through your heels and press your body up into a bridge until your hips are fully extended. Lower your butt back on the floor and repeat.
If you try this exercise, let us know what you think and if it improved your physical mobility. And while you’re at it, check out this these other everyday stretches to help you stay flexible and avoid pain at any age.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
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