Study design: Block randomized controlled trial.
Objectives: To investigate whether a strengthening and movement education program, targeting the hip abductors and hip external rotators, alters hip mechanics during running and during a single-leg squat.
Background: Abnormal movement patterns during running and single-leg squatting have been associated with a number of running-related injuries in females. Therapeutic interventions for these aberrant movement patterns typically include hip strengthening. While these strengthening programs have been shown to improve symptoms, it is unknown if the underlying mechanics during functional movements is altered.
Methods: Twenty healthy females with excessive hip adduction during running, as determined by instrumented gait analysis, were recruited. The runners were matched by age and running distance, and randomized to either a training group or a control group. The training group completed a hip strengthening and movement education program 3 times per week for 6 weeks in addition to single-leg squat training with neuromuscular reeducation consisting of mirror and verbal feedback on proper mechanics. The control group did not receive an intervention but maintained the current running distance. Using a handheld dynamometer and standard motion capture procedures, hip strength and running and single-leg squat mechanics were compared before and after the strengthening and movement education program.
Results: While hip abductor and external rotation strength increased significantly (P<.005) in the training group, there were no significant changes in hip or knee mechanics during running. However, during the single-leg squat, hip adduction, hip internal rotation, and contralateral pelvic drop all decreased significantly (P = .006, P = .006, and P = .02, respectively). The control group exhibited no changes in hip strength, nor in the single-leg squat or running mechanics at the conclusion of the 6-week study.
Conclusion: A training program that included hip strengthening and movement training specific to single-leg squatting did not alter running mechanics but did improve single-leg squat mechanics. These results suggest that hip strengthening and movement training, when not specific to running, do not alter abnormal running mechanics.
Level of evidence: Therapy, level 2b.