My Current Hip Flexor Strength Routine

I’m doing this twice a day currently. (Sorry, physical therapist I met on Monday.)


30 reps on each side.

clamshell exercise

Source: Pro Motion Physical Therapy

Reverse Clamshells

20 reps on each side.

Similar to clamshells, except you hinge at the knee instead of the ankle to work different muscles in the hip area. I like this awkward-looking drawing because I feel awkward when I do them.

Sidelying Leg Lifts

25 reps on each side.

sidelying leg lift exercise

Source: Pro Motion Physical Therapy

I have to make sure my hips are rolled forward a bit in order to feel this where you’re supposed to feel it. But once you are in the proper position, it burns!


Hold for one minute.

bridge exercise

Source: Pro Motion Physical Therapy

Marching Bridge

10 sets of marches.

From bridge position, lift one leg as if marching without moving the hips. Lower and repeat with the other leg. That is one set.

Single-Leg Bridge

10 reps on each side.

Cross one leg over the knee and raise up to bridge position. Hold for a beat, then lower back down.

My glutes/thighs are usually on fire by the time I get to the single-leg bridges, and I typically don’t make it through all ten on each side. Wednesday’s physical therapist (who sent me three of these exercises) said it is better to not do an exercise than to do one with bad form. So if you feel your form disappearing on any of these exercises, stop the workout. Focus on quality versus quantity.

Adventures in Injury Screenings

injury screening form

I feel like “past orthopedic injuries” is a loaded question. What haven’t I injured might be better.

On Monday, I went to Nashville Running Company for an injury screening with Results Physiotherapy. I explained where my knee hurt and told him about my fall while trail running. “Are you new to trail running?” he asked. “Uhh, well I’d done it once before, but, yeah, I guess…” I stuttered, not really sure why that mattered. If I fell, I fell, whether I’d done it once or twenty times.

He had me do single leg squats on each leg. He asked if this was the first time I’d had knee pain. I explained that I always had knee pain on long runs, but I thought this was an unrelated issue as it was in a different location on my knee and confined to only the right one. Then he poked and prodded my legs before declaring that all my muscles were weak, I probably need extensive physical therapy, and I should not be a runner. Okay, not really, but that’s how I felt.

He had me demonstrate how I’d been doing my clamshells, but apparently I was doing them wrong. Then he gave me two other exercises (reverse clamshells and single leg bridges) to do three times a day. “I have a problem with getting them in three times a day,” I said. “I’m good doing one set in the morning and one at night, but I have a hard time fitting in the third during the day.” He just looked at me. No sympathy for the busy office worker? Okay.

His final diagnosis was patellofemoral syndrome, or runner’s knee. Which I think actually is my problem…on my long runs. I’m not so sure that’s what’s going on with my right knee. Not that it really matters because I’m sure it all comes down to my weak hips.

On Wednesday, I went down to Fleet Feet for their injury screening, hoping my doctor would be there so I could get him to determine I hadn’t actually done damage to my knee when I fell. He wasn’t there, however, so I met with another physical therapist.

Before I met with the therapist, the woman who greeted me asked me a couple questions about my pain. “I have weak hips,” I explained. “Everyone has weak hips,” she said. That made me feel a little relieved that I wasn’t some crazy abnormality.

Then I met with the therapist and told her about the trail run and showed where my knee hurt. She also had me do single leg squats, but she recorded them and played them back in slow motion for me. Oh geez. I never really wanted to see myself do a squat in slow motion, but here it was.

My legs are so wonky.

While just standing in a normal standing position, my left leg bends in. The squat on that side didn’t look horrible, but my leg does some crazy thing on the right side. Yikes.

Then she poked and prodded, of course. I could really feel the difference in my right knee versus my left with her poking at it. She also had me demonstrate how I’d been doing my clamshells and apparently I did a better job as she approved them. Then she gave me a few more exercises to do (I’m going to have hips of steel soon). She didn’t seem sure about the actual knee issue, but thought that it was possible I’d jammed the joint somehow when I fell. She said it felt really stiff and said I should foam roll and maybe squeeze a tennis ball with the joint.

As I was getting up to leave, she said, “Don’t worry. I don’t see anything that says you shouldn’t be a runner.”

Oh, thank God. That’s all I needed to hear.

Injury screening, part deux.

Monday I went in for the second injury screening of my life. The first one was, of course, when I hurt my calf and my hip earlier this year. I basically knew that I kind of had the same problem going in, except on the opposite legs and my ankle instead of my calf this time.

If you don’t remember, back in June, I hurt my right calf, but continued to try to run and walk on it, which then made my left thigh/hip hurt from overcompensating. This time I hurt my left ankle, but continued to walk on it (I blame The Mo Run) and ended up hurting my right thigh/hip due to overcompensation. I will learn one day.

So, I went to an injury screening with Results Physiotherapy at Nashville Running Company. My appointment was at 5:45, and I showed up around 5:40. The girl at the desk said the therapist was running late, and there was one person in front of me who was out walking her dog. I had a seat. A couple minutes later, the girl before me walked in, and it was Jessica that I had met at the half marathon info meeting the Saturday before! We chatted until the therapist showed up, then I filled out a form while he went through exercises with her.

Soon it was my turn. I explained what happened and what I’d been doing. He poked and prodded at me, mainly focusing on my thigh/hip, since I really can’t feel my ankle pain as much, unless you directly press on it. He concluded that I needed to work on core and hip flexor strength and showed me some exercises to do.

So, what are the exercises? Funnily enough, two out of the three are the same exercises that the doctor showed me after I hurt my hip last time that I started out doing, but manage to maybe only do once a week now. So maybe this will ingrain it in me that I really need to do them and often. He also added a new one: single leg bridges. I do bridges all the time, but the single leg versions are supposed to work your glutes and core more. I’ve been trying to do all three exercises three times a day: when I wake up, when I get home, and before I go to bed.

He is supposed to contact me after a week to see if I’m doing any better. But the best news? He said I could keep running. I was so scared I was going to have to take more time off, thus ruining both of my upcoming halfs.

Final (hopefully) hip update!

Tuesday I had a follow-up appointment with the sports doc about my hip injury.

He asked how I did in the 10k and if I was happy with my time (yes!). He also asked if I was hurting afterwards (yes!). He was glad that I had taken the four weeks off and asked about my latest running. I told him that it was going optimistically well, and sometimes my hip would hurt when I first start running but would go away. He said that was a good thing, and it just meant I was tight, not injured. He asked if I had gotten new shoes (he wasn’t crazy about me going all minimalist from the start) and how I felt in those. Then he ran through a few leg movements and checked my leg length. He said it sounded like I was doing good, that my hip flexors still seemed a little tight, and he sent in the nurse to go through some exercises with me.

The first one she showed me is a hip flexor stretch that I can add to the other ones I (should) do. She said to do it on a daily basis and on days when I run, do it after I run. She said to add to the stretch, I can raise one arm (on the opposite side of the bended leg) and twist at the waist.
hip flexor stretch exercise

Next she showed me a strengthening exercise for the gluteus medius, which she said can get weak when you sit at a desk all day. It works to stabilize the hips, so it’s important to keep it strong when you run. She said to do this every other day for 90 seconds at a time.
gluteus medius strengthening exercise

I also asked the doctor when I could expect to have my endurance back since I took four weeks off. He said that I was in pretty good shape, so I should probably be back to where I was within a month. That’s good news, since my main goal for the Fremont 5k is for it to be the first 5k I run without walking!

Stretching those hip flexors!

I had to run just a little bit last week when I went on a hunt for a new pair of running shoes. It mainly involved running for about 30 seconds in each pair of shoes I tried on, but I could immediately still feel my hip injury whenever I took off.

So I decided I should probably do what I had been putting off during my rest time: stretch my hip flexors.

Besides the butterfly, I didn’t really know any good hip stretches, so I took to Pinterest. I found these videos, which I really like:

It feels like the stretches are helping (as far as I can tell without actually running). Anyone have any other good recommendations?