Many runners are unaware of the role their glutes play in their running performance. So why are strong glutes so important to runners?
When we run, the gluteus maximus is responsible for hip extension, or raising your foot towards your backside after you push off with your foot.
Without good hip extension you won’t have a powerful stride, which limits the speed at which you can run.
The other key role of the glutes is to hold your pelvis level and steady. Stability in the pelvis keeps your knees, pelvis, and torso aligned, limiting side to side motion and thus making you a more efficient runner as all your energy is directed forwards.
It is common for runners to have strong abs and back muscles but weak glutes. Studies link weak glutes to achilles tendonitis, runner’s knee, ITB syndrome, and other common injuries.
Part of the problem is that your glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities. This leads to your hamstrings, quads and calves becoming disproportionally stronger, which is known as an imbalance.
An imbalance like this limits the effectiveness of the glutes as the routine activities and habits recruit the stronger muscle groups such as the quads, rather than allowing the glutes to contribute properly to the movement. Over time, your body learns not to use the glutes as it favours the stronger quads.
Performing strength training exercises that isolate and strengthen the glutes will correct this imbalance and help you to stay injury free. So, runners, you still need to think about your ‘wet pants walking’ exercise!