Fitness Friday: Activate Your Glutes

Are you among the population that vow and declare that you are not built for distance running, yet you still desire to do it?

 

If so, this article is for you!

 

Running is one of the most straightforward forms of exercise, and it has numerous benefits including improved cardiovascular health, weight management and/or loss, decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression, increased strength and endurance and so much more. Despite the ease of picking up a running routine and its number of benefits, you may notice yourself fall out of the routine that you worked so hard to attain due to recurring injuries, aches and pains. Some common running injuries, aches and pains include:

  • Shin splints
  • Runner’s knee
  • Locked hips
  • Low back tightness
  • Sciatica
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Slouchy shoulder
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • And more

 

 

Believe it or not, these common runners ailments can be caused by different things in different people from imbalances in the muscskeletal sysytem to inefficient stride and all things in between(I will spare you the nitty gritty details). Nevertheless, more often than not, experts narrow in on the issue and offer up solutions in the form of exercises that can support you maintaining your running routine and truly thriving with your personal exercise goals.

One common issue runners face, often without even knowing it, is improper or inadequate glute activation. Due to various causes, the glutes are normally second string to the more dominant muscles of the legs: quadriceps, hamstrings and even the calves. As a result, the glutes become weak in comparison to the leg muscles, making it hard to pull their weight during physical activity. This can cause injuries, aches and pains like those mentioned above, more specifically: sciatica, locker hips, tight hamstrings, low back tightness and more. One way to combat this is to work on glute activation exercises outside of your normal runs.

 

Here are a three exercises to help you get started

 

 

Glute Bridges

How To:

Begin lying flat on the ground, bend your knees about 45 degrees and place your feet about hip-width distance apart and flat on the ground in front of you (or close enough that you can touch your fingertips to your heels). Place your arms straight by your side, and begin to bend your elbows to 90 degrees, so that only your upper arms are on the ground. Drive your hips up toward the ceiling as much as possible, focusing on feeling a squeeze in your glutes. Perform 15-20 reps.

Pro Tip:

  • Be sure to hold your squeeze at the top for 15-20 seconds focusing on the squeeze of the glutes rather than other parts of the legs.
  • Keep your back from hyper-extending by drawing your belly button in so that the back does not hyper-extend.
  • Make sure you press your hips straight up as evenly as possible to focus on evening out each side.
  • Check your knees at the top to ensure they are not caving inward.
  • Lower all the way down to the ground to relax the glutes and reset before repeating the exercise.

Why:

Glute bridges can be a beginner as well as an advanced exercise, meaning it is literally for any level of runner. Furthermore, it’s the perfect exercise to begin to notice the differences in muscle engagement in regards to hamstring versus glutes.

Level Up:

Try single leg glute bridges to hone your strength of each individual glute or place your feet on a bench for inclined glute raises.

 

 

 

 

Clamshells

How To:

Start lying on your left side with your hips and feet stacked, bend your knees about 90 degrees and allow your head to rest on your left arm. Pull your knees in toward your body until your stacked feet are in line with your butt. Keeping your feet together, slowly open your right knee up as far as you can without tilting your hips. Hold for 10-15 seconds. Perform 15-20 reps and switch sides.

Pro Tip:

  • Place your right hand on your right hip to ensure it doesn’t tilt too far back.
  • Keep core engaged and spine in line as you open your hip.

Why:

Clamshells attack the glutes at a different angle in which they are normally utilized. This means different muscles are engaged or trained more intently than through traditional exercises like squats or deadlifts. More specifically, clamshells help target the glute medius which is the abductor on the outside of you hip and butt.

Level Up:

Add a looped resistance band around your thighs to add additional resistance for hip stabilization and strengthening.

 

 

 

 

Bird Dog

How to:

Begin on all fours, your hands directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips and feet flexed. Lift your right leg directly behind you and left arm directly in front of you. As you drive your arm and leg in opposite directions focus on keeping both limbs in a straight line with your body. Now squeeze your glutes as you keep your belly button pulled in toward your spine. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then with control return back to all fours so that you can repeat the exercise on the opposite. Repeat each side 2-3 reps.

Pro Tip:

  • Hold for longer times to enforce stabilization on each side.
  • Be sure to keep the lifted foot flexed inward as if it were trying to point at your belly button.
  • Focus on lengthening through your lifted limbs to hold a strong posture during the exercise.

Why:

Bird dogs help us learn balance on each side of the body which is critical for an even, balanced stride while running. The lift of the leg behind you which activates the glutes can teach you how to properly tuck the tailbone inward so that the spine remains in line and the low back and hips do not become compromised while running.

Level Up:

Begin in a push-up position, lift the right leg straight behind you and left arm straight in front of you. This requires great core strength and balance,

 

Do you want to learn more exercises and stretches to help your recurring injuries, aches and pains? Contact our concierge to schedule an appointment with a certified personal trainer today.

 


 

Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!

 

 

– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC

Health Advisor  |  

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