May 4, 2009

Weak Hips May Lead To Running Injuries

A new research review suggests that weakness in the muscles that support the hips may be a common contributor to many overuse injuries in runners, Reuters reported.

Overuse injuries like chronic knee pain, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis and pain in the sole of the foot are common ailments for many runners.

However, a review of previous research findings published since 1980 found that weakness in the hip muscles may translate into a higher risk of such lower-leg injuries over time.

Lead researcher Dr. Reed Ferber of the University of Calgary in Alberta and colleagues published the findings in the journal Sports Health.

He explained that the hip muscles are responsible for stabilizing the leg during running and if those muscles are weak, or become fatigued easily, there is less control of the leg and the risk of injury increases.

Ferber said one example would be if the hip abductors"”muscles at the outer hip"”are weak, that allows the knee to roll too far inward, toward the midline of the body, which can set runners up for patellofemoral pain syndrome, which causes pain under and around the kneecap, or iliotibial band syndrome, where pain arises in the outside of the knee.

Ferber and his colleagues said the implication is that strengthening the hip muscles could go a long way toward preventing or resolving many running injuries.

The researchers noted in the report that an estimated 70 percent of runners sustain an overuse injury each year and about half of those injuries occur in the knee.

The team also found that six weeks of hip-muscle training could alleviate pain from various running injuries in most patients. They are also now studying whether such strength training also prevents overuse injuries.

Ferber advised that stretching the hip muscles is important for runners as well.

However, studies indicate that strengthening the muscles may be much more important when it comes to reducing injury risk, he said.


On the Net: