No one likes a lazy butt, right? And if you’re reading this, I bet you’re not someone others would describe as lazy, especially when it comes to your running. You put in the miles, you do your homework on shoes, race reports, and nutrition (chocolate and peanut butter is a solid plan, right?) and hey, you *might* even bust out your foam roller every blue moon. (Yes, you really do need to dust that thing off more often.) But what if I told you that you could HAVE a lazy butt, even if you aren’t one?
Yep. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it’s true. Your butt could be lazy. (However, you can’t blame your lazy butt on your inability to put those dirty dishes away. You’re on your own with that one.)
Well, to be fair, “lazy” isn’t a nice way to put it (although it’s fairly accurate) So, to be a more politically correct (it is an election year here in the U.S., after all!) we will use the other name in the industry that’s a little less judgey…“Glute Inhibition.” What does this mean?
Well, basically, your glute muscles are being inhibited; i.e. they aren’t firing or responding as they should. The why of it can be due to several things (sitting a lot can be one, for example) and it’s a bit of vicious circle; if injury is present or a muscle starts to take over for the work of the glutes, they become further inhibited. The body always goes for efficiency; if the glutes aren’t firing correctly and your hamstrings start becoming overactive, your body will say “Oh hey, cool, thanks hamstrings!” and will recruit them more. Which means you fire your glutes less. Which leads to more hamstring recruitment…see where this is going?
Inhibited glutes can contribute to everything from IT band issues and knee pain, reduced mobility in the hips, low back pain, and plantar fasciitis to name a few. So what can be done? Well, if you’re facing an injury , best to get that looked at and diagnosed so you can have a treatment plan and recovery timeline in place. But what if you want to be diligent and do what you can so you don’t have to deal with glute inhibition in the future? So glad you asked!
Here are a few exercises I recommend working into your training. These can be done daily, but shooting for 3x a week is an excellent start. They require little equipment and space which is a bonus! Of course I recommend squats, lunges and the like, but if you aren’t firing your glutes, you won’t be getting the full benefit of those moves, either.The following exercises are great to add to your current pre lifting routine as well to innervate those glute muscles so you get the most bang for your lifting buck.
These can be done with a bench or even just the floor if you don’t have access to a ball. Start on your back, with both feet on the ball.
Inhale, ENGAGE (squeeze) those glutes, drive through the heels and bridge up.
Pause at the top for 3-5 sec hold. Repeat for 2-3 sets of 12 reps
Now, you can stay with the above, or move into a single leg bridge:
This allows you to work each glute independently, but fair warning, this is tough! It requires balance and control…so always remember you can do this on a bench (more stable) or with both feet on the ground. Again, pause for a 3-5 count at the top, repeat for 12 reps.
Monster/Lateral Band Walks
I like to squat back slightly with these, keeping the chest up (but not arching the back) and butt back. Place a mini band (I get mine HERE) around your feet, right behind the widest part of the foot. With the goal of keeping feet straight (a little hard to see with the angle of this camera placement) step in one direction for 10-12 steps, the repeat on the other side. I like to do these before my runs; this one really lights up the glute medius muscle. POW! For added fun, try taking 10 steps forward and 10 steps backward (feet straight and moving at a slight diagonal angle).
Prone Glute Raises on a Ball
Here’s another one to get the glutes singing. Your goal here is to engage and squeeze those glutes as you lift up; the movement does not come from extending through your back. Pause at the top and squeeze for a little extra engagement. Repeat for 10-12 reps, 2-3 sets.
Our last exercise for this little circuit are clamshells. Lie on your side, hips stacked on top of one another. Place your mini-band around both legs above the knee.
Squeeze your glutes and open your knees; pause at the top. Slowly return to start position. Repeat for 12 reps, 2-3 sets. The movement here is not initiated from your back, and you should not rock forward and back. Stay as still as possible and let those glutes do the work!
There you go! A few exercises to work into your routine to help wake those glutes up and hopefully keep you running healthy and happy for miles to come!