“Honey, does this make my butt look fat?”

“Honey, does this make my butt look fat?”

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    PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Swanevelder

    Does this sound familiar? It is funny how we all want a good looking buttock, but rarely do we realise its crucial role in the body. So many runners look like a donkey being led by a carrot, hunched posture and head leading the way forwards. This is a perfect example of gluteus muscles (buttocks) not being activated.

    The gluteus minimus, medius and maximus muscles are collectively referred to as the glutes. This muscle group pulls the trunk into an upright position and stabilises the pelvis. If the glutes aren’t activated, we are not able to stand upright, and will thus hang on our ligaments. Our gluteus muscle group is the first gear of the body as all the other muscles take their cue to fire from it. Without it we have poor balance, strength and posture.

    When glutes don’t fire when running, the compensation pattern is as follows:

    1. Posture hunches and we lean forwards.
    2. Hip cannot extend and thus falls in (internal rotation).
    3. Thigh also rotates inwards and distributes forces to the inside (medial) of the knee.
    4. The lower leg (tibia) also rotates inwards which causes the heel to fall in.
    5. Foot pronation becomes excessive and causes ankle instability.

    These faulty patterns is a great cause of plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinitis, shin splints, ITB, runner’s knee and hamstring cramps.

    Get your body working from first gear and not second, third or fourth!

    Here are a few exercises to strengthen the glutes: (Click on the image to enlarge)

    Lené van Heerden
    As a physiotherapist Lené works with people in all walks of life, taking part in almost any and every type of physical activity. More often than not they find themselves in more pain than what you can ever imagine. Working with these people energizes her, but it is also poses a great challenge. Through this she has learnt a lot about the prevention and management of injuries. Lené will be providing trail runners with valuable tips and techniques to avoid injuries and to enhance their performance on the trails! Trail Running is my ticket to switching off my phone, getting dirty and experiencing nature the way it was intended.

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