Strong Butt Equals Happy Healthy Runners

Are you a runner with knee pain, hip pain, IT band syndrome, shin splints, etc.? Have you tried getting treatment for your running injuries and found it to be ineffective? Perhaps you went somewhere and they took an x-ray and said nothings wrong, take a pain killer and here have some muscle relaxers too. Or, maybe they sent you to therapy where you went for 6 weeks and worked really hard only to ease back into running and found out that the pain was still there. If so, then you might want to keep reading. You might have a weak butt causing a change in your biomechanics leading to these injuries.

Let’s talk about the butt. A super important muscle in the butt that dictates a lot of the stability when you run is called the gluteus medius. It’s a very small muscle for the problems it can cause. The gluteus medius functions to pull your thigh away from your midline aka hip abduction. It also functions to control what I call pelvis leveling and unleveling aka stability of the hip. What I see in runners with a weak gluteus medius is that their hip collapses a little bit on each step. A lot of these types of runners have a cadence that is less than ideal because they spend more time on each leg when that hip collapses. Your coach may cue you to increase your cadence but you’ll find that if you fix the weakness, your cadence will naturally increase.

Butt

So let’s break it down. You have a weak gluteus medius that causes your hip to not stabilize like it should. You take 1000-2000 steps per mile. If you run a marathon, that’s 26,000-52,000 times that you are impacting the ground. What do you think will happen to your body if your hip doesn’t stabilize correctly? Will something become injured if your hip collapses over 20,000 times in a race? As great of compensators as our bodies are that just seems to be asking a lot for our bodies to do!

I’m not saying your butt needs to look like Kim Kardashian’s to have optimal glutes as a runner. What you need are optimally firing gluteus medius muscles on both sides of your body. I muscle test the gluteus medius on every runner that comes into my office regardless of the injury they present with. I commonly find gluteus medius weakness and fixing weaknesses are how you prevent injuries from reoccurring and becoming chronic. There are a ton of exercises you can do but one of my favorites, and an easy one to do, is below: