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The cure for weak glutes

By Keith Bateman and Heidi Jones

This is why the glutes are weak

The reason why some muscles are weaker than others is because they are not being used as much. If you have this problem then it is simply because you are making the wrong movements. Undoubtedly, you have a hybrid walking/running action and this poor running action should be changed as soon as possible to avoid both short and long-term injuries and lack of performance. So weak glutes is a symptom of poor running technique, not the problem. (OYF Rule #6 Fix the problem not the symptom).

Recognising the signs of poor technique

There are several signs that point to poor running technique.

These include:

  • lack of speed
  • abrasions on the soles of your shoes or feet and blisters
  • bruised toe nails
  • poor posture
  • upper-body rotation
  • over-pronation
  • hip-drop
  • tripping
  • repetitive stress (e.g. foot, shin, knee, ITB, hip, back and neck pain)

These are discussed in detail in Chapter One, 'How poor technique affects your running', throughout the book and in Heidi's Podiatry chapters.

Muscle imbalance is common

Having strong quads and weak glutes (Illustration 8.15) is very common in runners (less common with barefoot runners) and is caused by over-striding, which makes you collapse at the waist upon landing.

In this semi-squat position you use your quads almost exclusively and hardly use your glutes. Raising the heel of a shoe switches off the glutes, so check the shoes you wear for every activity (see also OYF Rule #2, below). You can rectify this imbalance with specific strengthening exercises, but unless you amend your technique, the imbalance will return.

Good technique will put things right

Technique change will ensure you start making the right movements and will rectify the situation – permanently.

If you have been running for a few months, and your butt and stomach muscles have not started to tighten up, then you are not landing balanced. Landing balanced (with your foot under your hips once you have fully landed) requires those muscles to be used over 10,000 times per hour. Run well and you will get a good runner’s body in less time than you might expect (see Chapter 15, How to get a hot runner’s body).

Here’s how to fix it

The simple lessons in Chapters Five, Six and Seven in the book and online videos will set you up and then your glutes, hamstrings and calf muscles will start to get a good work out.

To get you started, follow Heidi’s Strengthening Program (as we recommend for all runners changing technique) but Heidi’s special Quarter-knee squat will be especially useful in initially re-building your glute strength.

OYF Rule #2: Stand and land aligned

The aim is for your spine to be vertical, which means you will engage the postural muscles of your stomach (abdominals), back (erector spinae) and bottom (gluteals). You should be in this upright stance whenever you are standing, walking or running and it can only be achieved by wearing thin, flat, flexible shoes. When running, you can only land aligned if you have such shoes.

By following this rule, you will build up all your muscles in the right proportions—calves, glutes, back, stomach, neck—every muscle you use will build as required. If you have spent decades in shoes that are raised up at the heel, then your muscles will have developed (and under-developed) to accommodate your non-vertical stance, and it will take some time for your body to re-adjust.

All atricles

The cure for weak glutes


What foot-strike is best?


How can I run faster?


Transitioning to faster running age 50


Why do I trip over when I run?


Over-striding: Have you been told to do shorter, faster steps?


Why do I bruise my toenails?


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