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Make sure your gluteus is maximus

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The gluteus maximus (the major muscle of the butt) is one of the largest most powerful muscles of the human body. It plays an important role when running. It works to keep your torso upright, decelerates the swing leg as it contacts the ground and it also extends your hip joint allowing you to push off from the ground, moving your center of mass forward. In essence it propels the body forward.

The other glute muscles are the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, these muscles are mostly responsible for stability. If the glutes are weakened or inhibited your running might lack power and it can cause an injuries: including itb syndrome, patello-femoral pain, achilles tendinitis and piriformis syndrome, lower back pain and chronic hamstring strains to name a few.

People who work long hours in an office are at special risk of glute muscle issues. This is because the glutes can atrophy through long periods of sitting. Therefore, it is important to perform strengthening exercises such as the following whenever possible:

Squats are a simple exercise, but often performed with poor form. Here’s how to do it correctly:

  • Start with your feet hip distance apart.
  • Keeping your knees over your ankles, bend your knees, moving your butt back as if to sit in a chair
  • Your knees and lower leg should form a 90 degree angle (if you can’t get to 90 degrees without compromising your form that’s ok)
  • Make sure your knees do not go over your toes
  • Raise up and start again
  • Do 10 reps, 3 sets, 2-3 x a week.

Lunges are another great exercise.

  • The working leg should be forward, the back leg hip distance apart, and in a split stance. The heel of the back leg should be up.
  • Slowly bend the knees, keeping the front knee over the ankles. The end point is when both the front leg and the back leg make 90-degree angles.
  • Rise up and start again.
  • Do 10 reps, 3 sets, 2-3 x a week.

Step-ups are great, effective and you can do them anywhere. Even at work.

  • Place your right foot on a bench or step (6-15 inches)
  • Straighten your right leg, be careful not to lock it.
  • Your left leg should be just behind you, don’t let it touch the bench.
  • Lower your left leg till the left foot touches the floor.
  • Repeat 10 reps, then switch legs. Do 3 sets, 2-3 x a week.

As always be consistent with these exercises and in no time you will feel more power in your run. Happy trails!

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