Are You Extending From Your Hip… Or Your Back?

Read any book, blog post or magazine article about running form and you’re sure to find a section about hip extension and it’s importance to running.

Hip extension is what allows forward motion to occur and by this reasoning, the more hip extension the better, right? Perhaps.

In respect to running performance, factors involved with hip extension include flexible hip flexor and adductor muscles, as well as transverse (rotational) pelvic rotation. If these things are not flexible enough to allow for proper range of motion – especially flexible hip flexors and adductor muscles – a runner will compensate for this lack of range of motion in another area … the low back.

In a runner with good form, hip extension occurs at the hip joint (greater trochanter) whereas in a runner with poor hip flexor/adductor flexibility, the low back hyperextends so that effectively the hip extension is originating from the low back, not the hip (see picture above). Back hyperextension is the result of the pelvis tilting forward.

While some runners can run with a hyperextended back with no issues, most can’t – at least not for extended periods of time.

Focus on stretching your hip flexors and adductors and strengthening your glutes and core. This will allow the pelvis and spine to stay in a neutral position while the hips extend.


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