Often, when runners feel pain in their knees or feet, the problem is really further up — for example, weak hips and glutes. I’m a prime example of that issue: Years ago, I saw a doctor for knee pain from running, only to find out my IT band was hurting because it was picking up the slack from other big muscles that weren’t doing their job. Strengthen those areas, my doctor said, and I’d run better and without pain.
Since then, I’ve been devoted to the Myrtl routine, a set of 12 exercises focusing on building strength and range of motion in the hips. (“Myrtl” sort of rhymes with “hip girdle,” which is how the routine got its name.) Running coach Jay Johnson developed this routine for Nike, and it combines many classic hip and glute strength exercises — like clamshells and leg lifts — into a compact package that requires no equipment and takes less than five minutes to complete.
Johnson says the routine can be used as a dynamic warm-up before a run, as a cool-down, or on its own. I like it best at the end of a run, because it starts lying down, and the end of a run is a great time to lie down!
Check out the whole routine in the video below, or take this PDF of the Myrtl exercises to go.