This epidemic has a variety of causes from hours of sitting on our butts at work to isolating our workouts to running only. Many runners have unintentionally begun running with just their calves and quads, while the act of running should also involve our hamstrings and glutes, Yes, there are runners that seem to run quite well without their glutes, but imagine what would happen if all of your muscles helped you out with the effort of running. Better running efficiency, less chance of overuse injury, and more power – to name just a few of the benefits of using our muscles as intended.
Our bodies are very efficient machines and part of that efficiency is conserving energy. When a muscle doesn’t get used for awhile, our body can actually shut off that muscle to conserve energy. Unfortunately, we are usually unaware that this has happened and we keep going. This leads to other muscles taking over for that lazy muscle and now we are using less efficient muscles. When we use a muscle for a purpose it was not intended for we start seeing things like overuse injuries, muscle tightness, and less efficient runs.
Runners, it is time to wake up those lazy glutes! I recommend this simple exercise below to start the awakening. Do these regularly and you may be surprised to see your running shorts transform from baggy on your backside, to “check out this butt!”
Start with a simple Active Shoulder Bridge to begin reactivating and building those glute muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor at hip width and your arms relaxed by your sides. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up off of the floor, forming a bridge with your feet and shoulders still on the floor. At the top of the bridge make sure you squeeze your glutes tightly and then slowly lower your hips and set your butt back on the floor. Repeat this up and down bridging motion with an emphasis on your butt muscles initiating the movement. If you have difficulty tightening your butt muscles, put your hands on your glutes as you raise your hips. This will help your brain reconnect to those glute muscles and help with activating the contraction of that muscle. Also, be sure to really drive your heels into the ground (keeping your feet flat on the floor) as you lift your hips.
The Active Shoulder Bridge not only uses your glutes, it also uses your hamstrings and back muscles. And, there is the added bonus of stretching out your hip flexors at the top of the bridge, making this an exercise and a stretch at the same time. I love any exercise that sneaks in a stretch, as most runners are notorious for not stretching unless something hurts. (Right?)
I recommend starting with 2-3 sets of 10 Active Shoulder Bridges daily to begin your fight against “Runner’s Butt.” Join me in the fight for runners with strong glutes. We can change our running world to be more powerful and efficient – one exercise at a time!
Run Oregon blogger, Annette Vaughan, is an ACE and ADAPT Certified Personal Trainer. You can find her at The Fitness Studio in Canby. Got questions about “runner’s butt” or suggestions for future articles? Email her at: TheFitnessStudio@canby.com