Feb 28

How Weak Glutes Affect Your Running Performance

running3As an elite athlete, you know the importance of maintaining a strong core, but there’s another “core” muscle group that often gets neglected in a runner’s strength training program: the glutes. These strong, large muscles should play the starring role in your running activity rather than allowing the smaller, supporting muscles to take over. When your glutes are weak, bilateral deficiencies are a foregone conclusion. Here’s what you need to know about how vital these powerhouse muscles are to your running performance.

What Do the Glutes Do?

The glutes consist of three muscles in the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. During a run, the glutes are responsible for hip extension, which helps propel the body forward. The also keep the torso, pelvis, and legs in proper alignment. When the glutes are properly developed and engaged, they create a chain reaction in the body with each stride, allowing the other muscles to do their jobs without taking on too much of the burden of running. When the body is in balance, the glutes contract first during a run, followed by the hamstrings and then the lumbar extensors.

What Happens When the Glutes Are Weak?

When you neglect the glutes, other muscles–including the hamstrings, quads, and calves–will take over during your workouts and become disproportionately stronger. As we have already discussed at length, such imbalances invariably lead to poor running form, negatively affecting your performance and causing chronic pain and injuries in the back, hips, knees, shins, or ankles. Stretching is just as important as strengthening all the muscle groups, as tight muscles can inhibit the performance of neighboring muscles. For example, tight hip flexors can restrict the glutes and inhibit proper firing of the muscle fibers, which means that your back or hamstring muscles may erroneously fire first during a run.

To find out if you’re weak in the glutes, your trainer can perform a few simple tests involving stretches and lunges. Our RPM² footbed devices can provide further information on gait, range of motion, and  pressure to determine if bilateral deficiencies are decreasing your athletic performance.

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