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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gluteus Maximus....ENGAGE!

In my last post, or one of my last posts, I mentioned that I have a very weak gluteus maximus. I've begun doing core work in the morning to aid me in triggering my gluteus maximus and for the first time today, during practice, I could feel myself making use of the muscles!

this is delicious butt, smoked boston butt. :)

It may seem like this is something rather unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but this is literally the last piece in the puzzle that is known as my 'it band friction syndrome'. Yup, the dreaded ITBS. The IT Band gets overused/restricted when the PFL muscle is forced to work overtime. This happens when other muscles, and in my case it was the gluteus medius and maximus, aren't doing much (if any) of the work.  When the PFL is forced to work overtime it tightens up and strains the IT Band, causing it to feel inflamed at the IT Band insertion point below and at the side of the knee. You can also feel tightness at the outside of your hip.

I sorted out my gluteus medius with clamshell exercises against a flat wall (if you'd like more details, let me know in the comments, I'll gladly detail the exercise for you) and now I'm focusing on my maximus with a few exercises. And today, among the 19km of fun snow running I found the missing piece to enable me to trigger my gluteus maximus: tucking my hips beneath my shoulders and tightly engaging my core to keep my mid section rock solid.

This sounds much easier in words than it did in real life, but with some mindful attention to your hips and core you too can start using your ass for more than just sitting on it.  Here are some tips I can offer to improve your running posture, therefore improving your runs and decreasing the likelihood of injury:

  • Do core strengthening exercises regularly. This can be as little as 20 minutes, 3 times a week for you to start seeing immense benefits.  This is something I wish I had discovered years ago, it would likely have saved my young and illustrious running career. ;)
  • Engage your core while running.  This means don't let your arms and legs do all the work. If you can manage your core and midsection you can help the entire locomotive process of running. To help with this tighten your abs and lower back while trying to make yourself as tall as possible. If you currently experience any knee pain, feel it slip away as you engage your core.
  • Tuck your hips beneath your torso...this can only be done if you are engaging your core. Yoga has helped teach me how to do this as well.
  • Think of analyzing your stride. You can do this yourself if you are capable of breaking things down, but otherwise, visit a physiotherapist and have your gait analyzed. You are likely to learn you have muscle imbalances, tight hip flexors or that you are a severe heel striker.  All these things lead to proactive, take care of them now!
It's taken me 10 years of my life to realize that the time you spend core strengthening, in physiotherapy, having massages and stretching is 'money in the bank' that you can withdraw against at a later date.  Not only that, but the investment doubles in value as you continue building your aerobic base while strengthening your core body. You are much less likely to be sidelined with injuries as you pack on the miles and increase the intensity.

I know you probably won't listen to me, but if you can pick even one thing to do from above, you'll already be on your way to being a better runner. I know I am, and I didn't start doing them all at steps will get you there too!


  1. Could you let me know more about clashes against the wall you.describe? Thx!!

  2. Lorna, I believe you are asking about the clamshell exercise. Here is a great video highlighting how to do them:

  3. Just wanted to say thanks for the tuck advice. I've since resumed my core exercises on the ball and am attempting to tuck. I'm starting to feel it :)

    At 27 I don't think I've got a "career" ahead of me, but exercise, you bet!

    Thanks again!

  4. Rand, I'm glad you're working core work back into your routine. I'm creeping up on 29 now and I couldn't log the weeks I log without the core work I've done.

    I've also begun incorporating foot strengthening exercises, I'll definitely start writing about that adventure.

    Good luck in your running and health!


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