Work that butt: The curse of the weak glutes

One of the biggest problems I hear about in the running community, particularly the female running community, is weak glutes. Sometimes it presents itself in the form of hip, knee and foot pain and causes over or under pronation where your body is trying to compensate. So we label ourselves as ‘under’ or ‘overpronators’, buy clumpy supportive trainers, which help to an extent, but the problem doesn’t go away. In my case it highlighted another issue – that trainers with hard soles destroy my feet.

Rather than buying different trainers and putting a bandaid on it, shouldn’t we go to the route of the problem – weak/lazy glutes?

I’m not a doctor or a physiotherapist, so the first stop should always be with a health professional, but this seems to be a common issue.

Why are we seeing these issues?

Put simply, the glutes are are such a hugely powerful muscle and are vital for walking, running and raising from a seated position to a standing position. They help stabilise your hips whilst running and if we do not use these muscles effectively, then much smaller muscles, such as the calf muscles, will try to compensate. These smaller muscles become fatigued much more quickly, which can result in strain and injury.

  • Mileage increase – I didn’t see any problems with my knee, hip or overpronation until I started upping the mileage past about 12 miles. It seems, for me, my glutes have given all they could give up to that point and then other muscle groups were taking over and causing me to twist my foot inwards.
  • Training our cardiovascular systems before the muscles are ready – it’s easier to increase cardiovascular fitness over a short period of time than it is to build sufficient muscle strength and I think we are all guilty of trying to run before we can walk, so to speak. Take it slowly when you first start running and mix it with other disciplines, such as cycling and walking.

So what can we do to help prevent this?

  • Increase mileage slowly over a long period of time
  • ALWAYS stretch. The glutes are a very large muscle group and require a long stretch (2 mins +). Place your leg over opposite knee and sit for a good stretch.
  • Cross train – Cycling is great for the glutes as are lunges (static or walking) and squats
  • Practice yoga – Yoga is a great alternative to running and something to do on rest days. It’s particularly good for elongating and stretching muscles, and preventing muscle injury.

For another great and informative article on weak glutes, check out Dash‘s post here.

I also posted about free exercise earlier today.

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