The Running Physio

TRP's Running Blog

Injury management, nutrition, training and running tips.

Get Your Butt In Gear

We receive many questions regarding foot strike here at TRP. Although foot strike is an important part of the running equation, there are a few elements higher up in the kinetic chain that require our attention. This week’s post will focus on one of those very important elements, the glutes.

Think of your glutes as the the power source of your running stride. If your glutes are not activating or ‘firing’ correctly, it can create issues further down the chain. Injuries can present themselves in places like the quads, knees and feet. Glutes are complicated little things made up of multiple moving parts -  you have the gluteus minimus, the gluteus medius and the gluteus maximus. (Fun fact, the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in your body!) All three parts of your glutes needs to be working effectively to provide stability to your legs and hips and to maintain proper trunk posture while running. When our glutes are weak, other parts of our bodies try to compensate resulting in poor mechanics. 

When runners are looking to optimize their form, reach their maximum speeds and minimize injury we typically start by assessing and strengthening the good old glutes! (And the hips and a few other parts actually, but we’ll talk about those in another post)

We mentioned it in a previous post, but we like to use a ‘three cornerstone’ approach when assessing clients. One very important corner, if you will, is external factors. External factors are especially important when assessing and treating glutes. External lifestyle factors, things like sitting at a desk for hours on end all affect how your glutes respond to stimulus and fire.

A simple exercise that every runner should be including as part of their strengthening  routines are air squats. Air squats will help strengthen not only our glutes but our entire posterior chain. Here’s how to do a proper air squat:

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, hands on hips.
  • Keeping your knees behind your toes, shift your weight into your heels and hinge at the hips.
  • Engage your glutes to lower your butt back and down towards the ground. You should feel like you’re sitting back onto your butt.
  • To ensure your weight remains in your heels, to push your knees out - don't let them collapse inward. This should be done both the down and up motions of the air squat.
  • Squeeze your glutes to return to standing position.
  • Repeat for three to five sets of 10 to 12 reps.
  • Your chest should remain proud throughout the whole movement. This will ensure that the glutes are activating correctly and that you are getting all the amazing benefits of the air squat.  

There are many modifications that can be done to the air squat, including adding resistance bands, weights and modifying to single leg squats. As we mentioned above, your glutes are just one element of the kinetic chain. To prevent injury and maximize efficiency, all elements of the chain need to be working correctly and in harmony. If you’re interested in learning more about how your glutes affect your running or you’re looking for additional glute strengthening exercises, click here to book an appointment - we’d be more than happy to help you get your butt in gear!

Happy Running!                                                                                                       -TRP