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Why Are Glutes So Important To Runners?

Categories: Exercise

If you are a runner, you have possibly trained almost all the muscles you need to achieve speed, power, and endurance while running. However, do you know that your butt also plays a very important role in your movement? Yes, it's not only there for aesthetic purposes! Before we talk about the function of the glutes, it is only prudent to know their basic structure.

The muscles that make up the glutes are:

1. Gluteus Maximus — This is the largest muscle in the body and arguably, the most powerful too. It makes up the most of the bulk of the glutes and is the most visual of all three muscles. It makes up a large portion of the shape and appearance of the hip.

2. Gluteus Medius – This is a broad, thick, radiating muscle located on the outer side of the pelvis.

3. Gluteus Minimus – This is the smallest of all three and is located immediately beneath the gluteus medius.

All three muscles are important when running. The Gluteus medius and minimus are the muscles that support your body when on one leg. They abduct the thigh with the knee extended. When the hips are flexed, they internally rotate the thigh and when the hips are extended, they externally rotate it. The gluteus maximus moves both your hips and thighs. Its main function is upper leg extension such as moving the upper leg backward like when rising from a squat position.

Exercises that will strengthen your glutes:

Leg lifts – Go down with your elbows and knees on the ground. Lift your left leg until it is parallel with the ground and keep this as your starting position. Lift your leg up, about 6-12 inches from starting position, making sure that it is straight and return. You can also do donkey kicks from this position by making a 90-degree angle with your leg and lifting it, keeping your knee bent.

Bridge – Lie flat on the ground with your back to the floor, hands by your sides and knees bent. Push off the ground with your heels, keeping your back straight and raising your hips off the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat. For that extra workout, try the same exercise with one foot on the ground at a time.

Squats – Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and back straight. Bend your knees like you are going into sitting position, making sure that your knees do not pass your toes and keeping your back straight. Hold this position for 5 seconds and squeeze your glutes while returning to starting position. Repeat this movement.

Side leg raises – Stand on one leg with knee slightly bent. Raise one leg a few inches off the ground and then to the side as high as you can while making sure your back is straight. Try and go up to about a 45-degree angle. Return the leg to starting position, keeping it off the ground and repeat.

Your glutes are not only aesthetically pleasing but when the muscles are activated, they can drastically improve your running performance.