Great article on Competitor.com discussing a common running related problem that we always try to sure up in our running community. The tag line for the article was “Don’t get left behind—strengthen your glutes!” This is a very fitting statement because weak glutes causes other muscles in the system to fatigue over time which can lead to a repetitive stress injury. The glutes may not be the most important muscle when running (and walking and climbing stairs for that matter), when compared to something like the heart, but they are very instrumental in how you move. The article at Competitor.com can be found at:
The article is authored by Matt Fitzgerald who can be followed at:
Matt has written some other great pieces linked to the page above.
Now diving into these glutes, we have to understand that when we say the glutes, we are actually talking about three muscles, not just one, with fibers that run different directions. The gluteal muscles help connect the low back to the pelvis and to the lower extremities. A strong glute complex is very important to hip stability. The big part of your butt that you can easily reach back and poke is the Gluteus Maximus, this muscle runs from the back side of the pelvis and attaches on the femur. The Glut Max has to work in close proximity to the iliotibial band which is another issue runners commonly experience. To add complication to this system, the posterior portion of the Gluteus Medius is covered by the Gluteus Maximus. The Glut Med as we like to call it is a prime stabilizer of the hip that when it becomes weak, allows the hip to drop opposite from the stance leg. Back in the day, before vehicles were super accessible, well actually before vehicles even, oh yeah, we are taking it way back here. So lets say previous to the 20th centry, people had to use their gluteal muscles more. People walked long distances commonly, lifted and carried heavy things and since elevators did not exist, we humans climbed a lot of steps which really keeps those glutes strong. When the glutes become weakened, they allow for over pressure and overwork to start happening on the smaller muscles of the pelvis. When this happens, muscles that are commonly not supposed to be major players in our gross movement patterns start to be overworked, muscles like the piriformis, the TFL (Tensor Fascia Late which controls the ITBand), the quadratis femoris, as well as other small muscles. In runners, we often hear “if only I could get my piriformis to stretch…” and in all likelihood, the piriformis needs a stronger glute complex to help it control the motion of the femurs and pelvis. If issues related to the pelvis are commonly left go for too long, the dysfunctions will then start to transfer into the lumbar spine (low back area) or possible translate into the knees.
If you have noticed on news channels and social media alike, the current themes are things like “SITTING IS THE NEW CANCER”, “SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING”, “IS SITTING TOO MUCH KILLING YOU SLOWLY”. While this certainly is a problem, sitting too much can cause atrophy of the gluteal regions, the good news is that we can strengthen the glutes and get you back together quicker than potentially someone who has smoked for a long time.
The take home story in all of this is we need to keep moving, sit on our butts less, and always try to include an exercise that helps strengthen the glutes and its supporting cast into our workout plans. If you feel issues like this are possibly contributing to your problems while running, low back pain, butt pain, or leg related problems, you should come and see us for an appointment sooner than later! If you wondering what the answer is, it involves all kinds of fine exercises like Squats, Squats, and possibly more Squats! We also have some other sneaky corrective exercises that help get our runners back into peak form, but you will have to wait for another article to get all of that or you can come see us!