Why Your Weak Glutes are Cramping Your Running
Three muscles make up the gluteals:
- Gluteus maximus
- Gluteus minimus
- Gluteus medius
The largest and outermost of these is the maximus. It’s also the heaviest muscle in the body and the one you ‘sit on’, so to speak. It works to extend and outwardly rotate the hip joint. It’s crucial to activities like climbing stairs but isn’t quite so engaged in regular walking.
The innermost gluteal muscle is the minimus. It is the smallest of the three and works to stabilise the pelvis during walking and running, as well as help with abducting the leg (lifting it up to the side) and internally rotating the thigh.
Every time you run, your gluteals are working tirelessly to:
- Keep you moving forwards efficiently in a straight line, instead of from side-to-side
- Keep your pelvis and hips stable and prevent any unwanted rotational movements
- Cushion the (massive) impact forces from running
- Extend the hip to help you keep moving forwards
- Decelerate your thigh as you move into ground contact
- Help keep your knees stable and performing optimally
- Iliotibial band syndrome
- Shin splints
- Patellofemoral knee pain (runner’s knee)
- Achilles tendinopathy
How do I know if my glutes aren’t doing their job?
Single leg squat
Get in front of a full-length mirror. Stand on your left leg and lift your right leg up and straight out in front. Lifts your arms up to shoulder height and use them for balance. Move your hip backwards and bend your standing left leg so you begin to squat. Go as far down as is safe to do, ideally until there is a 90-degree bend in the knee. Straighten your left leg as you push up and come back to a straight standing position.
Your biomechanical assessment with us
If running performance and overall strength are important to you, our comprehensive biomechanical assessment is the perfect start. We’ll not only assess your muscle strength, function and movement, but we'll be able to show you via treadmill video playback exactly what your glutes are doing when you run and how it’s impacting your output. We find that understanding and visually seeing the impact is a great awareness reminder and will help you know what to look and feel for as you work to gain that strength and make those changes.