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 assistance from the hamstring muscles.
More often than not the glutes do not work properly and the driving force comes from the hamstrings and lower back, both of which are supposed to be quite small contributors. 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 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 (two to four times per week).
From this scenario, it is given that some muscles will get tight (calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, deep glutes, low back, shoulders) and some will become weak (glutes, low and 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 their functionality be improved, it will also help to release the tension in the hip flexors and the hamstrings. With these very easy to do exercises you will soon reap the rewards.
Side steps with a resistance band – x 25 steps left and x 25 steps right
- Stand in a slightly squat position with your feet placed shoulder width apart, with a resistance band around your feet
- Place your weight on your tiptoes and with a quick rhythm, step side ways keeping the feet the same distance apart
Bridging with the 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 your shoulders and knees)
- Keep the hips high, open your knees wider than your feet and hold for 5 seconds
Squats – 20 reps
- Stand with your feet hip to shoulder width apart
- Squat down as deep as you can while 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)
Standing side leg raises with a band – 40 reps
- Stand with the band around your feet and balance on your left leg
- While maintaining an upright and still posture, raise the right leg to the side for 10 reps
- Immediately switch to the other leg and repeat for a further 10 reps
- Repeat the above a second time through
Repeat these exercises three to four times per week as a means to get the butt firing!
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.
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