SKINS Head Running Coach, Joshua, discusses how important Glute Strength is for runners.
Throughout our time in running, many of us have had issues stemming from weak glutes. In fact, weak gluteal muscles have been linked with numerous lower limb injuries that stop us from going out and enjoying what we love. When Joshua was at university, his strength and conditioning coach, Dane, used to say, "weak things break", and he wasn't wrong. Having strong glutes prevents us from getting injured. Research also suggests that having greater glute activation can help improve our running times. Therefore it's imperative that as runners, we look after one of our key areas of weakness.
GLUTE STRENGTH IS IMPORTANT
Not to keep going on about it, but the gluteal muscles are essential when it comes to running. Your glutes are responsible for controlling the orientation of your legs throughout your running action. In addition, the glutes provide stability for the pelvis and knees, which in turn enables your body to move in a better alignment pattern. Thus, reducing the chances of picking up injuries. They also help provide a lot of power to help you produce more force when running faster. This happens by creating a greater hip extension, resulting in more energy in the leg swing phase of your running stance.
So it really is essential that you maintain good strength in your glutes, or if you know it's an area of weakness, try and build up some greater strength. It's a lot more simple to do than you think. It's actually really easy to strengthen and activate your glutes from the comfort of your own home without the need for hefty weights and gym equipment. When designing a programme centred around the glutes, we need to ensure that you are activating and strengthening the muscle. This comes from making sure you have good technique when completing any exercises, so take your time and learn good technique first before increasing volume.
GLUTE ACTIVATION VS STRENGTHENING
Glute activation drills centre around switching the gluteal muscles on and allowing them to fire effectively. Whereas, with strengthening, you are looking to build up the glute's overall muscular volume to increase power or improve your stability. Gluteal activation is very beneficial to incorporate into your pre-run routine. This will ensure whilst you are out running; your glutes will be working more effectively. When incorporating strengthening exercises, we would recommend putting these into your strength or "pre-hab" routines.
The activation and strengthening exercises centre around hip abduction and external rotation. This enables us to strengthen the glutes in a way that benefits your running. For example, focusing on drills that keep your hips high can reduce the extent to which your glutes drop whilst you run thus, reducing their power potential.
If you're an SCA member, check out the SCA Instagram for a visual representation of a couple of exercises for activating and strengthen your glutes. Try and incorporate these 1-2 times into your weekly routine. Remember, making sure you do these consistently and for a prolonged period of time will help you see the most significant benefits! If you have any running-related issues linked to your glutes, then make sure you see a Physio or a Strength and Conditioning Coach for more specific advice.
THE ACTIVATING AND STRENGTHENING GLUTE EXERCISES
Banded Crab Walks, Walking Leg Tuck, Glute Bridges, Clams, Reverse Clams, Side Lying Raises, Glute Marches.
WHAT TO DO
Complete 2 rounds of the above drills. Start at 10 reps if you can, and build from there. Complete this circuit twice weekly.
Try and incorporate these 1-2 times into your weekly routine. Remember, making sure you do these consistently and for a prolonged period of time will help you see the most significant benefits! If you have any running-related issues linked to your glutes, then make sure you see a Physio or a Strength and Conditioning Coach for more specific advice.