“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)