Doctor of Physical Therapy and ultrarunner Kristina Pattison shares four exercises for strong glutes.
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The gluteal muscles (glutes) at the back and sides of your pelvis work together to extend your hip in the powerful striding motion that propels you forward and up hills. They also help stabilize the femur to keep the knee from caving in every time you land. All sorts of aches and pains are related to underutilized glutes including runner’s knee, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, hamstring strains, hip pains, even ankle tendinopathies and low back pain.
The four motions you can practice to improve the strength and endurance of these muscles include hip extension (leg behind body), hip external rotation (knee out motion), hip internal rotation (knee toward center), and hip abduction (leg away from body). Add an elastic band for resistance to increase the difficulty of these moves.
Perform hip extension by lying on your back with your feet planted and knees bent as far as comfortable. Start by contracting the abdominal and gluteal muscles to pull the pelvis and back into a neutral alignment. Use the glutes to lift the pelvis up off the ground, keeping the back straight from shoulders to sacrum. Slowly lower your pelvis back to the floor. Perform one to three sets, of ten repetitions. For added difficulty, add a resistance band just above your knees, and/or try raising and lowering your pelvis in a one-legged bridge position being sure to maintain level hips.
Tip: Keep your abs and glutes engaged the entire time to ensure your back stays straight.
Perform hip external rotation by lying on your side with knees bent, feet together. Lift the top knee away from the bottom. Perform one to three sets, ten repetitions per set being sure to switch sides.
The Reverse Clamshell
Perform hip internal rotation by lying on your side with knees bent, feet together. Lift the top leg slightly so it is hovering. Lift the top ankle away from the bottom ankle, turning the leg inward. Again, keep the pelvis perfectly still. Lower the ankle back to the starting position and repeat. Perform one to three sets, ten repetitions per set, on each side.
The Jane Fonda
Perform hip abduction by lying on your side with the top leg extended parrallel to the ground. Lift the top leg away from the bottom leg. Keep the pelvis perfectly still and ensure your waist stays long. This should be felt in the muscles at the outside back of the hip, not the front.
Tip: if you are not feeling this motion at the side, ensure the hip is forward and heel is back. Try rotating the entire leg inward from the hip so the toes are down, or try the exercise lying on your belly.
For more strengthening exercises for Mountain Runners, read about these Two Hip Strengtheners.
Photos: ©Kristina Pattison
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kristina Pattison is a member of the La Sportiva Mountain Running® Team.
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