For many runners frequent injury can be a common source of frustration. But the source of your injury may not be as obvious as you think. Running is a great cardio vascular activity and a great source of enjoyment. However, it is not always the best activity in terms of creating optimal muscle balance in the body. There are some muscle groups heavily active during running and those that get less attention. It is those that get less attention that may turn out to be the source of your trouble.
There are three main muscle groups used most during running
- Hip flexors (muscles at the tops of the thighs closest to the pelvis)
- Quadriceps (muscles that run the length of the front of the thighs)
- Gastrocnemius/soleus complex (aka the calves).
While the hip flexors and the quads are the driving force on the front of the body, the calves are one of the only things active in the rear. If you’ve taken a good look at a group of runners lately, there is one thing they often have in common, NO JUNK IN THE TRUNK!
The gluteal muscles (aka your buttocks) have a very important roll in human function. These muscles are the primary movers at the hip, controlling hip flexion and extension as well as internal and external rotation. Because of this they are able to control the rate at which the entire lower extremity transfers weight and impacts the ground. Weakness in these muscles places abnormal strain on other groups resulting in tissue overuse and breakdown.
Common running overuse injuries can include:
- ITB syndrome (lateral hip and knee pain)
- Plantar fasciitis (heel pain)
- Knee pain / patella-femoral syndrome
- Posterior tibialis tendonitis (medial foot / ankle pain)
The good news is, with these simple exercises done 2-3x/week you can begin to strengthen your gluteal muscles and restore muscle balance in the body.
Tighten your abs and squeeze your glutes.
Then lift your bottom off the floor and hold for 10 seconds.
Repeat the exercise 10 times.
Lift your knee towards the ceiling as far as you can without rolling back.
Hold for 5 seconds.
Repeat 15 times.
Tighten abdominals and lift heel towards ceiling while keeping your pelvis level and activating your glutes.
Repeat 15 times.
Go ahead, give these a try and let me know if it helps you. And now that you have tackled the butt, stay tuned for next month as we tackle your gut!