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Hip Drop Exercise that Actually Works Blog

Running: Hip Drop Exercise That Actually Works

exercises and drills hip flexor training smarts Jan 25, 2024

This past Thursday was our monthly call with my Women’s Running Academy Run Club (the only way in is through the Women’s Running Academy Mentorship) we spent some time talking about what it means to have “dynamically stable hips.”

To me, it requires 3 pieces:

  • The ability to access the range of motion needed at your hips in all 3 planes of motion - hip flexion/extension, abduction/adduction, internal/external rotation.
  • Strength through those ranges of motion.
  • The ability to move in and out of those ranges dynamically - specifically “catching” yourself in midstance and propelling forward through toe-off.


When all of this isn’t happening in your running stride, you might see a hip drop.


A hip drop is when the opposite hip drops uncontrolled when standing on one leg through the stance phase for running. It’s often most pronounced at midstance. Excessive hip drop can lead to knee, hip, and/or IT band issues with running.

The picture above shows my hip drop in February of 2021 compared to February 2023.


Typically, things like hip hikes, clamshells and band walks are given to help with countering that hip hike in the name of strengthening glute med. It makes sense on the surface, if the hip is dropping, hip hikes and glute med strength should help keep it up...

 ...but that never worked for me so I went searching for answers.

 While glute med strength is an important part of the equation. I see the hip drop more as a symptom of the inability to organize your center of gravity over and truly load onto that stance leg.


That means:

  • internal rotation at the pelvis
  • knee tracking over toes
  • foot moving into pronation
  • internal obliques on that side on
  • length on the opposite side

 Yes, your glutes play a big role, but functionally using them goes a little bit deeper than hip hikes, clamshells and band walks.

Check out this short video walking you through what a hip drop might mean for your movement.


Accessing the Range of Motion

Then try the exercise below to help with that first piece: finding that length and organizing your center of mass over your stance leg through midstance. Start with the isometric version first. Find the position, hold, think of creating space in your back pocket and breathing space into your backside…

If getting into this position isn’t easy for you, know that it wasn’t for me at first either, but that’s how I knew I needed it!

Start on the floor or with a much smaller step (a book works well). If you are feeling it more in your low back than your butt, you are likely forcing it past the range you own and/or not getting your obliques fully onboard.


Building Strength in that Range of Motion

From this length then we can talk about strengthening the glute med with something like a hip hike.

Check out this video on a hip hike upgrade that takes into account truly moving through midstance and organizing your center of mass over your stance leg first.

Moving Dynamically Through Those Ranges of Motion

I like to think of moving into midstance as catching your body mass over your stance leg. You are loading your tissues through the length and using that tension to create force into the ground.

This Dynamic Hinge to the Wall is one way we do this in the Women’s Running Academy.


Then I think of moving out of midstance as riding that wave. The most force we put into the ground happens through midstance then we move into a more “hip locked” position creating a more rigid lever to toe off through. Essentially opposite of all things midstance above:


  • external rotation at the pelvis
  • hip extension
  • foot moving into supination
  • internal obliques on the opposite side on
  • length on the stance side


I like this Hip Lock Drill for moving from that length at midstance into that lock at toe off.

With running all the parts are connected and reciprocal left to right. Of course, midstance is only one piece, but I truly believe if we optimize the way the lower body handles the load and get really stable through that mid stance so much of the rest takes care of itself!

Another huge piece of the puzzle that can impact all of this is how you are organizing your body in the sagittal plane (front to back, as you would view it from the side), in other words, how you are stacking. That’s why in all the Women’s Running Academy we take the time to address these pieces together.

Stack, so you can load through your core and move more efficiently through rotation.

Organize your center of mass over your stance leg as you move into midstance.

… then we can take all that stored energy and use it to propel you forward!

 If you are interested in Round 6 of the Women’s Running Academy. Get on the waitlist now!


Round 6 starts March 4th!

Waitlist doors open February 13th.

Waitlist closes February 2nd.


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