Glute Strength in Running

The Importance of the Glutes in Running
◷ 3 minute read. In a hurry? Scroll down for our 60-second summary


glute strength in running

Which muscles do you think it’s possible to run without? The calves? Johnny Peacock only has one calf, he’s pretty quick and he definitely runs rather than hops. The hamstrings or quads? Well I’m sure you’re familiar with Richard Whitehead, an above the knee amputee, who runs fast – and for a long time. Remember that prosthetics don’t provide any power, they just react off the ground and provide leverage. Richard, Johnny and every other runner get power from their glutes. That’s why the most powerful runners – sprinters – have the most `well developed` buttocks!

What Do We Mean By The Glutes?

The glutes consist of three muscles: The gluteus maximus, the most well-known and easily seen, moves your hips and thighs. The gluteus medius is a radiating muscle which holds us upright when we stand. If this is weak, the piriformis muscle has to overcompensate. This can lead to the piriformis becoming enlarged and pressing on the sciatic nerve creating sciatic pain. The gluteus minimus sits below the gluteus medius. These two muscles support the body when on one leg, i.e. during every running stride.

Why Are The Glutes Important In Running?

Theresa May’s favourite two words – no, not ‘fields’ and ‘wheat’ – ‘strong’ and ‘stable’. As mentioned in the intro, the glutes generate power. They also perform the key role of stabilising the pelvis and controlling the lower leg. Without stability you cannot generate power. Go on; try running on jelly and see how quickly you run. Actually that sounds like fun…

What Are The Benefits Of Working On Glute Strength?

When I carry out a Running Analysis, one of the most common technical faults of runners is a low knee lift and short, laboured stride. Upon watching the runner from behind I often find that they have low hips caused by under-firing glutes. A bit of stretching and glute activation later and the knee lift and stride improves. As well as giving you a longer, more powerful stride, glute work will help you gain better control of your legs, which will reduce injuries, as I’ll discuss next:

What Will Happen If I Neglect Glute Work?

Your butt is a large muscle group (please don’t take offence at that!) By neglecting glute work, you’ll force the smaller muscles, lower down in the body, to carry extra workload which means you’ll be performing below your potential. The glutes are generally pretty inactive in everyday life, particularly if you sit down a lot, so your other muscles become disproportionately stronger. IT band syndrome (runner’s knee) is high up of the list of most common running injuries. This is often caused by weak glutes which can’t stabilise the leg properly. Other common by-products of this imbalance are Patellofemoral syndrome and Achilles tendonitis.

what you need to know
  • The glutes consist of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus

  • Modern day sedentary lifestyles lead to under-firing, weak glutes

  • Weak glutes mean other leg muscles take on their workload meaning, you are not running to your body’s potential

  • Glutes provide power and stability. Without power you are slow and weak. Without stability you are injured!

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