The Glutes are an important muscle group for runners as they provide both stability and propulsion. Injury expert Matt Phillips shows us the ideal way to exercise them
Target Muscles: Gluteus medius & gluteus maximus
Sets and Reps: 3 sets of 12-15 reps
Tempo: Lift for 1, hold still for 2, slowly lower for 3
Frequency: Include in your two strength and mobility sessions a week
Experiencing pain? If you get pain in the lower back when performing the leg raises, it may be because your lumbar spine is arching too much. If this is the case, try tilting the pelvis slightly in the opposite direction so that your lower back flattens out. you might not be able to get the leg as high, but you should find the effort shifts away from the lower back and more onto the buttock. If you cannot perform this exercise without pain, seek help from a qualified exercise professional.
Stability comes thanks to the gluteus medius (and gluteus minimus), on the side of the hip, which stop the pelvis on the opposite side from dropping too much when you are on one leg during the stance phase of running. Research has linked excessive pelvic drop with ITB syndrome, as well as lower leg injuries, showing that movement and control at pelvic level plays more of a role in what happens further down the kinetic chain at foot level than vice-versa.
The gluteus maximus (buttock) helps the hamstrings drive the hip into extension, ultimately propelling us forward. Many runners work at strengthening the muscles on the front of their legs, and forget about the glutes and hamstrings at the back. The imbalance that occurs has been linked with knee pain and performance reduction. This exercise makes use of a resistance band to target the glutes.
How many Repetitions?
For the strength gains desirable for distance running, you should be aiming to fail by 12-15 reps, i.e. not be able to do any more. Unless you work to failure you will not stress the body hard enough to cause it to get stronger.
Resistance bands typically come in different colours that signify their degree of tension. Make sure you choose a colour that fatigues you by 12 repetitions. over time, you should find you are able to do more than 12 reps and will therefore need to start using a tougher resistance band.