3 DIY gait retraining exercises

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If you’ve struggled with injuries, just strengthening your hips may not be enough – you may need to re-educate them, says Colleen Brough. ‘Running-form cues teach the correct muscles when and how to fire,’ she says. ‘They also teach overused calves, hamstrings and hip flexors to quieten down. It’s called neuromuscular re-education – teaching a new firing pattern.’

As you progress with phase 2 of our hip strength programme, do these gait exercises. At some point on your run, pick a lamp post, tree or other landmark 60 or 70 metres away and practice one of these drills until you reach that landmark. Try again a few more times on the run, but don’t worry about doing these for the whole run. And be patient; it can take up to three months to make the new movement pattern your natural gait.

1/ The glute push-off

Why? By focusing on squeezing your bum and then using it to drive you forward, you’re teaching your gluteus maximus to fire at just the right moment, harnessing the strength there to propel you.

How? Focus on one side at a time. As that foot hits the ground, think about relaxing through your stomach, back and hamstrings while squeezing your bum muscles. Once you hit your first landmark, pick another and repeat on the other side.

2/ The core cue-up

Why? Many runners with weak or dysfunctional hip and core muscles overuse their obliques to steady their wobbling pelvis – a job those muscles weren’t really designed to do, and a position that creates tension throughout your trunk and arms. Learning to draw power from your lower abdominals instead keeps your upper body more relaxed and your pelvis strong and stable.

How? Engage your lower abs by gently drawing your navel up and in. Relax once you reach your landmark. Repeat.

3/ The forward lean

Why? Often, runners tend to sit back as they fatigue – a position that can inhibit your gluteus maximus and put extra strain on your hip flexors and hamstrings. This cue reminds you to stay upright, properly utilising the strength in your core and glutes.

How? Try this one near the end of a run, when you’re tired. Imagine someone is grabbing you from the front and lifting you up by the chest. Tip your body slightly forward from the ankles up – don’t just bend forward at the hips. Relax once you reach your landmark. Repeat.

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