Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No "Butts" About It!

One of the most overlooked muscle areas of a runner is the backside. Okay, well, maybe it's not "overlooked." Maybe "paid attention to." Nope, that's not quite right either. Hmm... I got it! One of the most under worked muscle groups of runners are the glutes (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus). Yep, the derriere, the bum, the hind quarters, the tush. Weak buttocks have been the culprit in ending more running seasons than possibly any other running-related injury.

The gluteus maximus is the attention getter—the J. Lo of the group. But of the three gluteal muscles, the gluteus medius is a key muscle to focus on when it comes to running. This muscle (along with the gluteus minimus) helps to externally and internally rotate the thigh. It's also a hip abductor (helps to pull the thigh away from the body). Okay, now I know what your thinking, "I don't externally or internally rotate my thigh nor do I abduct my thigh when I run." Correct. However, the gluteus medius is key in stabilization of the hips/pelvis.

When running, the gluteus medius and minimus work together along with the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) to keep the pelvis from dropping to the opposite side. If the gluetus medius is weak, it can affect the stabilization of the hips and plevis during running. If this happens a lot of stress is put on the TFL which can cause patello-femoral pain (runner's knee) and iliotibial band syndrome (ITB) which can present itself as knee pain. Who'd a thunk that a pain in the knee is really from a pain in the butt?!

Unfortunately the repetitive nature of running can actually weaken the gluteus medius. So, what's a runner to do? Work that butt! More accurately, "Work those abductors!" The following simple exercises will whip your gluteus medius back into shape in no time. To maintain strength in these important muscles, be sure to do at least one of the following exercies once or twice a week.






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16 comments:

wendy_kresha@charter.net said...

Lol! Sorry, i couldn't get past the first paragraph. I was too busy laughing my Gluteus Maximus off : )

RunnerDude said...

Hi Wendy! LOL! Thanks!

Claire said...

Excellent post!!! Hips and the like play such a huge part in running...thanks for addressing this!!

I had a horrible bout with a jacked up knee and never thought it could possibly be anything but the knee...could have knocked me over with a feather when my sports med guy gave me almost these exact exercises and I've been running knee and other pain free for over a year.

Amanda said...

I was recently in a half marathon where I came upon a woman who walks marathons and half marathons. She was walking at a 13 min/mi pace and she said the key to her training was the glutes. Since I've been training my weaker muscles my IT band pain is nearly gone.

Robin said...

Thanks for the 411! I see you all over the blogosphere, but hadn't been by to visit yet... (lots of blogger friends in common, it seems).

You No Butts title caught my eye this morning! Have been dealing with glute/hamstring pain since first running haphazardly in late 2008/early '09. Massage therapy provides temporary relief, but still no real answers. After spending time in Track Shack, our local running haven, I'm starting to think it's more about form, gait. I appreciated this info and will continue to research running form.

Thanks from Orlando!
r.

p.s. ~ following now, too, so i can keep up w/ latest posts. :-)

RunnerDude said...

Hi Claire! That's so awesome! Not that you had the knee pain, but that you discovered the real problem.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Amanda! That' great! Keep up the good work!!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Robin! Welcome to the blog! Is it as hot in Orlando as it's been in Greensboro the past 2 week? Shew! I'm ready for some 80s again!

Kiesha said...

Just getting caught up on your blog. Great post about the glutes! I often massage the all the muscle attachments right under my backside to keep from tightening up.

I also really liked your "King Vita" post. The info on the vitamins is great! I'd like to include it in my "Friday Fav's" if that's okay. Thanks!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Kiesha!Thanks for the great feedback! I'd be honored to be in your "Friday Favs"!

Nicki said...

reekingsYup! Hip issues early on as a running but not since I started paying more attention to my own butt - as opposed to the men running past me in races. Well...LMAO!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Nicki! LOL!! Glad you're better!!

Barefoot Tyler said...

very informative.

i have been having hip abductor problems. i adjust my gait when this happens and it goes away, but i don't want it at all. would these stretches help fix my hip abductor problems as well?

i look forward to giving these a try.

RunnerDude said...

Hi Tyler! Seems like it wouldn't hurt. Basically these exercises will strenghten your hip abductors actually more than just stretching them. Strengthening them should help create more stability in your pelvic/hip region. Not sure what exactly your hip abductor issue is, but I'd say try it. Might be with checking out with your sports doc or a physical therapist first.

Jen said...

Very good post! My TFL and gluteus medius were hurting right after my marathon in April and haven't totally recovered yet. I think this something that I need. Do you think doing the exercises will exasperate an already existing problem or do you think it would help fix it? I notice that it hurts when I do the first set but seems to loosen up for the second set. Great info, thanks!

RunnerDude said...

Hi Jen! Probably worth a check with the sports doc. It may be that you need to fully heal before doing the exercises, or he/she may say go ahead and start, but take it slow.