Article by the Drummond Team
Running is an activity that relies on forward momentum to get us from A to B. In order to achieve this the main muscular driving force should come from the Gluteus Maximus (glutes) with a good amount of assistance from the hamstring muscles (the muscles that form the bottom and back of thigh).
Creating the Problem
More often than not the glutes do not work properly and the driving force comes from the hamstrings and low back, both of which are supposed to be quite small contributors and consequently over time they will become taught in an attempt to try to stabilise this action.
Why are the Glutes Insufficient?
One of the biggest contributors to lazy glutes is the fact that we sit and lie down so much, which creates a detraining effect of the glutes and ultimately a change of use. Take an average day. In order to get to work we generally drive or take the train. We will walk from the car or the station to our desk and then sit down for the majority of the day. We then repeat the reverse of our morning journey, we get home cook our evening meal (healthy, of course) and then sit down for the rest of the evening on the sofa with the remote control and mobile phone holstered at the ready. We then go to bed and lie down. Using a conservative interpretation of time spent either lying and or sitting we come up with approximately 18-20 hours spent on our backsides. Oh! I guess somewhere in there we might throw an hours worth of exercise (2-4 x per week).
From this scenario, it is given that some muscles will get tight (calfs, hamstrings, hip flexors, deep glutes, low back, shoulders) and some will become weak (glutes, low & upper back, abdominals etc.).
As we know it is the glutes and hamstrings that make us run effectively, the fact that these muscles are either switched off or tightened with the inactivity of sitting, it is a wonder how anybody can run consistently for periods of time without any injury or discomfort.
Offering a Solution
By incorporating some prehabilitation exercises (exercises that are set to condition select muscle groups prior to a problem arising) to your training routine you may minimise the potential risk of getting injured and indeed help you to progress with your running.
By getting the glutes active, not only will they help to increase the functionality here but will also help to release the tensions in the hip flexors (front of the thigh) and the hamstrings. With these very easy to do exercises you will soon reap the rewards.
- Side Steps with a resistance band 25 steps each way– Stand in a slightly squat position with your feet placed shoulder width apart, plus a resistance band around your feet. Place your weight on your tip toes and with a quick rhythm step side ways keeping the feet the same distance apart – carry this out 25 times each way.
- Bridging with Knees Out 10 x 5 second holds – Lie on your back with your knees bent (feet shoulder width apart) and the band around your knees. Lift your hips off the floor to make a straight line between shoulders and knees). Keeping the hips high, open your knees wider than your feet and hold for 5 seconds – repeat this 10 times.
- Squats 20 reps – stand with your feet hip to shoulder width apart. Squat down as deep as you can whilst maintaining your torso in an upright position and your knees over your toes. As you stand back up make sure that you complete the movement by squeezing your bottom and thrusting your hips forward (in a controlled fashion) repeat this 20 times
- Standing Side Leg Raises with band 40 repetitions – Stand with the band around your feet and balance on your left leg. Whilst maintaining an upright and still posture raise the right leg to the side for 10 repetitions, immediately switch to the other leg and repeat for a further 10. Repeat this all again so that it looks like this 10 Right, 10 Left, 10 Right, 10 Left
Caution: do not do these exercises prior to going for a run as it will create fatigue in your hip stabilisers and you may not get the most out of your run.
Repeat these exercises 3-4 times per week. They are meant as a means to get the butt firing and are by no means the only exercises available.