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Tips for Healthy Hips Print E-mail

While there have been great strides in arthroscopic hip surgery in the last few years, obviously most people want to avoid hip surgery, if at all possible.  If you're active in sports known to put a strain on the hips –baseball, golf, taekwondo, ballet/figure skating, ice hockey, snowboarding, baseball, even yoga – taking a few conditioning and strengthening tips for runners can help you lessen the chance of injury.

Since runners often face problems with knees, leg muscles and ankles, they tend to spend a lot of energy on investigating orthotics, the newest shoe designs, and focus on conditioning and stretching regimens for those lower extremities.

The problem, however, may actually originate much higher, in the hips.  Core muscles in the abdomen, back and hips along with the large muscles in the buttocks - the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius - propel you forward and support the pelvis and hip joint while you run.  In fact, those muscles fire first when your feet hit the ground, followed by the hamstrings and quadriceps.

Running in a straight line does nothing to build the glutes, causing them to weaken or virtually shut down.  When all the core muscles are weak, they transfer the burden to the hamstrings and quads, throwing off the mechanics of your stride during a run.  With core strength training, you can help lessen the chance of injuries not only to your hips, but also to your knees legs and feet.

Runners’ World Magazine explained this phenomenon in a great article a couple years back, and includes some exercises to help runners avoid such injuries:

If you’re a runner, or are regularly active in other hip stressing activities, core strengthening will build abdominal and back muscles for stability and keep your pelvis in line.  Hip abductor exercises are ideal to strengthen those glutes to keep your stride straight and your hips strong.   Stretching with a Therband mini-band is great for the hip abductors, shown in this YouTube video: .  Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong website also describes, in detail, some great abduction movements – the Clamshell, The Bridge and a Classic Hip Abduction Exercise:


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