In order to run with proper form and injury free, our glute muscles have to be fired up properly, and activated before other muscles such as hamstrings. The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus are the three key muscles in our backside. When we spend a long period of time sitting, the glutes disactivate, making it harder and slower to activate when running.
Glutes are the key drivers in the running gate cycle.
Weak Glutes = Poor Running Form = Possible Injuries
When the glutes are not activated, other muscles take over and compensate, such as hamstrings and IT Band. The IT Band (inserted in the TFL hip flexor) is a poor controller of the knee, and hamstrings are poor hip extensors compared to the gluteus maximus. The compensation of these muscles can lead to knee pain from a tight IT Band, and hamstring tendinopathy.
By activating our glute muscles, we can also prevent or alleviate back pain. So if we have to spend a lot of time sitting throughout the day, we have to make sure that we stretch our hip flexors regularly, and perform exercises to activate our glute muscles.
To find out if your glutes fire up before your hamstring, perform this test:
- Lie on your front.
- Place a set of fingertips on the gluteus maximus (your buttock), and the other on the hamstring on the same side.
- Lift your leg up, keeping it straight, and feel which muscle fired first and with the most strength. If your hamstring fired up before your glute kicked in, then your glute muscle is weak. Then you need to perform some glute activation exercises regularly.
For a perfect running form, the ankle is supposed to be mobile, the knee stable, the hip mobile, the lower back stable. If a runner is experiencing knee pain, the problem could be that one of the stable joints has become mobile, or a mobile joint has become too unstable (hypermobile). The joint above the knee is the hip, which should be mobile enough to absorb the forces from the foot strike. If the gluteus medius is too weak, the hip becomes hypermobile, then the hip is unable to absorb the force and instead will pass it to the knee or lower back.
One of the most common symptoms of a weak gluteus medius is a condition called Trendelenburg Gait. Trendelenburg Gait is a condition that happens when one foot hits the ground but the opposite hip with the foot off the ground drops. You can see that running form from behind when the hips drop side to side. The main issue with the hip drop is with the leg with the foot on the ground, you will see an inward collapse of the knee as the opposite hip drops. This motion will put a lot of pressure on the ACL ligament and alter the knee cap motion between the upper leg and lower leg. The result of the failure of the gluteus medius to control the inward collapse of the knee will produce other issues such as IT Band syndrome, one of the most common runner’s injury.
Training the gluteus medius by performing the proper exercises regularly will help prevent any knees injuries. The goal is to train the gluteus medius to resist the inward collapse of the knee. By taking care of your gluteus medius muscles you will not only see an increase in your performance, but also in injury prevention.
BASIC GLUTE EXERCISES
- Bridge (single Leg)
- Fire Hydrant
- Lateral Walking Squat with a resistance band around the ankles.
- Plank Opposite Arm and Leg
- Bird Dog
- Side Plank with Leg Lift
- Reverse Plank
- Donkey Kicks
- Step Ups
GLUTE STRENGTH EXERCISES
- Barbell Squat
- Dumbbell Step Up
- Bodyweight Walking Lunge
- Bodyweight Squat
- Donkey Kicks
- Dumbbell Lunges
- Dumbbell Side Lunge
- Dumbbell Squat Thruster
- Fire Hydrants
- Goblet Squat
- Single Leg Bridge
To perform glute and hips stretches is very important, even after every run we should include some basic glute stretches.
STRENGTHEN, STRETCH, ENJOY A GOOD & STRONG RUNNING FORM!