One of the most overlooked muscle areas of a runner is the backside. Okay, well, maybe it's not "overlooked." Maybe "paid attention to." Nope, that's not quite right either. Hmm... I got it! One of the most under worked muscle groups of runners are the glutes (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus). Yep, the derriere, the bum, the hind quarters, the tush. Weak buttocks have been the culprit in ending more running seasons than possibly any other running-related injury.
The gluteus maximus is the attention getter—the J. Lo of the group. But of the three gluteal muscles, the gluteus medius is a key muscle to focus on when it comes to running. This muscle (along with the gluteus minimus) helps to externally and internally rotate the thigh. It's also a hip abductor (helps to pull the thigh away from the body). Okay, now I know what your thinking, "I don't externally or internally rotate my thigh nor do I abduct my thigh when I run." Correct. However, the gluteus medius is key in stabilization of the hips/pelvis.
When running, the gluteus medius and minimus work together along with the tensor fasciae latae (TFL) to keep the pelvis from dropping to the opposite side. If the gluetus medius is weak, it can affect the stabilization of the hips and plevis during running. If this happens a lot of stress is put on the TFL which can cause patello-femoral pain (runner's knee) and iliotibial band syndrome (ITB) which can present itself as knee pain. Who'd a thunk that a pain in the knee is really from a pain in the butt?!
Unfortunately the repetitive nature of running can actually weaken the gluteus medius. So, what's a runner to do? Work that butt! More accurately, "Work those abductors!" The following simple exercises will whip your gluteus medius back into shape in no time. To maintain strength in these important muscles, be sure to do at least one of the following exercies once or twice a week.