In this case, we’re not just referring to the lazy bums that don’t do the work, but more appropriately, we are talking about the bums that do not innervate correctly.
The glutes are a common problem area in many runners, and yet, the problem can go unnoticed because it often disguises itself as other pains. No two runners are alike, thus in one runner, problems can start occurring in places like the IT band (iliotibial band), or the hip flexors, or even the plantar fascia, but don’t be surprised if the root cause is higher up in the kinetic chain–a lazy butt!
It is often glute medius that is the culprit, and it often comes from either new runners or runners who have just stepped up their mileage. At a certain level, say 20 miles a week, muscle compensation could mask glute medius’ lack of firing, but once the milage goes to say 70 miles a week, a flaw in the kinetic chain will not go unnoticed and your body will definitely tell you that something is wrong.
It would do little good if the glutes were isolated and exercised for maximum strength gains, if the sequence of firing is incorrect. Rehabbing the glutes alone is rarely the answer.
So how do you get your glutes to fire correctly?A successful rehab program will focus on getting the entire kinetic chain working and coordinated from core to foot. Good form consists of the glutes firing before bigger muscles down the chain activates, like the hamstrings. The biggest benefit is working on the “muscle” between the ears—your brain.
Here are a few tests and simple exercises that will help to seamlessly integrate the neuromuscular firing pattern into your everyday life. TIP: make sure a conscious effort to squeeze the glutes first when performing the exercises, this will train the brain!
TWO GLUTE-FIRING TESTS
Stand straight with head, shoulders, buttocks and heels against a wall. Does that feel unnatural? If so, you’re out of alignment, which can be a red flag.
Do your glutes complain when you perform 20 donkey kicks (on hands and knees, kick one leg out, back and up)? If they fatigue, they’re weak. Donkey kicks can be used both to diagnose and to treat weak glutes — build up to 30 per leg.
FOUR WAYS TO WAKE UP YOUR GLUTES
Lying on your back, bring one knee toward the opposite shoulder, performing most of the movement with the active leg and only using your hands to pull your knee to the farthest range of the stretch. Hold for a moment and return.
Standing on your left leg, reach with your right arm across your body to the floor. Then straighten up and reach diagonally above and behind your head with your right arm. Do 10–20 on each side.
Stand with one foot on the edge of a box and the other swinging free. With an elastic band around both ankles, swing the non-weight-bearing leg forward and back, keeping your hips level and stable.
In push-up position, face down with your body in a straight plank position; raise your right leg, tensing your glutes. Hold for five seconds and return to original position. Do 10–15 per leg.
Inactive glutes are often easily resolved, but if not attended to can lead to consistent problems elsewhere. If you have consistent running problems, don’t hesitate to call your Sheddon Physiotherapist at (905) 849-4576