Our Glutes are the largest, but can be laziest, muscle in the body. Unfortunately, they can be one of the most under-utilized muscle groups that we have, and as a runner, this can lead to some serious issues. If you suffer from over-active quads, hip flexors, sore knees or tight ITB (Iliotibial Band) , then these issues can stem from not activating our glutes. As they are such a large and powerful muscle we should be making the most of them, and therefore before you begin your run, spend 5-10 minutes warming up the glutes and making sure they are engaged. If we can activate the glutes before we run, it is more likely that these muscles will want to work while you are hitting the pavement. Working our glutes will not only make us a stronger and more efficient runner, it will also help to share the workload between the muscles in the lower limb and aid in minimizing injury.
Three best glute activation exercises:
+ Banded Clam Shells
Put your band around both legs and place it just above your knees. Lay on your side with your knees bent toward your chest, and your heels in line with your glutes which are in line with your shoulders. Keeping your heels squeezed together at all time, raise your top knee, keeping your bottom leg on the ground. Raise the top knee up and control the movement on the way down. Be sure to eliminate any rock through the hips by keeping your core engaged. Repeat the move 20 times, before holding the knee up for 30 seconds.
+ Banded Hip Bridges
Put your band around both legs and place it just above your knees. Lay on your back with your knees bent up and your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping the weight in the heels of both feet, squeeze your glutes and raise your hips up off the ground. Only come to a height that feels comfortable on your lower back and focus on making your glutes do all the work. Squeeze your glutes on the way up, and release the glutes on the way down.
Repeat the move 20 times, before holding the knee up for 30 seconds.
+ Crab Walks
Put your band around both legs and place it just above your knees. In a standing position place your feet at shoulder width apart so you have tension on the band. Make sure that toes are slightly turned out and that your knees are driving over the toes and not falling inwards. Bring your body into a half squat position with your chest pulled up and shoulder blades squeezing together. Take a small step to the right focusing on knee positioning and using your glute to control the move of the left foot stepping in. Take 10 small steps to the right, staying down in the half squat position, and 10 small steps to the left. Repeat 3 times.