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Prevea Health

It’s all about the glutes


There are three gluteal muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. They all have slightly different responsibilities and are very important when running, but there is one that could be the culprit of your pain. It’s common to see decreased (or a complete lack of) activation in the gluteus medius during the running cycle in those that have pain. There is no specification of what injury and/or pain this causes, because it can vary from person to person. A lack of activation in the gluteus medius can cause pain anywhere along the kinetic chain from your low back to your feet depending how the body compensates and distributes force. Here are a few exercises that can encourage activation of the gluteus medius and help prevent pain in the runner:

Forward walking lungesForward walking lunges

  • Begin standing with both feet together.
  • Take a large step forward and as your foot contacts the ground, sink your hips. Your knee should be positioned slightly behind your toes and should not be “crashing in” towards your other knee. Tip: Line your knee up with your second and third toes to ensure proper alignment.
  • ​Your next step should go right into the other leg, not bringing your feet together in the middle.

Move to the side stepping one foot at a time.Start in a standing position with a mini-band around ankles.Mini-band lateral walk

  • Start in a standing position with a mini-band around ankles. Your knees, hips and toes should be in-line with each other.
  • Move to the side stepping one foot at a time. Keep your movements controlled and keep tension on the mini-band.
  • This exercise can be done in place or moving.

Mini squatMini squat

  • Stand upright with feet shoulder width apart, knees and feet facing forward.
  • Bend knees to a 30 to 45 degree angle.
  • Slowly return to start position.
  • Repeat.

Piriformis stretchPiriformis stretch

  • Start in a seated position with legs straight out in front of you.
  • Cross one leg over thigh and place opposite elbow over outside of knee.
  • Gently stretch buttock muscles by pulling bent knee across body.
  • Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Slowly return to original position.
  • Repeat for the opposite side.