Best Glute Medius Exercises for Runners.

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Glute medius weakness lower back pain link:

Two recent studies 1 2 found a weak gluteus medius was linked to lower back pain!  This study found – Active Release Techniques (ART) soft tissue therapy of the glute medius was effective in treating patients with chronic lower back pain. Find an ART provider near you.

Even pros who train loads need to add glute exercises:

If a four-time Ironman World Champion triathlete like Chrissie Wellington and marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe can have glute and core weakness issues, it shows that training in varied planes / directions is necessary. 

“My last coach, Dave Scott, integrated strength and conditioning work into my programme and it helped no end, especially towards the end of a race. Dave knew that my drop-off in the marathon wasn’t due to glycogen deficiency or lack of energy – it was because my glutes, core and hamstrings weren’t strong enough, so my form would disappear. So we worked on those by including exercises like lunges, squats, single-legged squats and hip flexion exercises. Simple bodyweight-bearing stuff really. 

“Three times a week, each for about an hour, I’d undertake a strength and conditioning session. That’s not realistic for the amateur athlete, but even doing 2 x 20mins will have an effect. And you can always incorporate the exercises into your everyday life. For instance, when brushing your teeth or making porridge, do it while standing on one leg and squatting. Just take care to do the exercises correctly or your time will be wasted.” Chrissie Wellington 

Paula Radcliffe’s coach told a similar story in The Guardian:

“Kelly Holmes, who won 800m and 1500m gold in Athens in 2004, could do it in 12 seconds, but Radcliffe took 27 because her core and posture were weak. Hartmann introduced plyometrics and heavy weights and, after 18 months, her body no longer tailed off at the end of races. She had become nearly unbeatable.”

Some thoughts:

  •  If a therapist tells you they can tell you that your glute fires after your hamstring, they are deluded.  The difference is so small it is way, way, way,… below human touch sensitivity.
  •  It wasn’t an accident that I left out the clam-shell, it is too easy for most runners.
  •  The side-plank requires massive glute medius contraction (study) along with a good contraction of other frontal plane stabilizers, the quadratus lumborum and obliques.  
  • If you want to get maximal glute medius activation with minimal TFL activity, do isometric side-lying hip abduction (study).
  • Study: those with painful glute tendons – have weak hip muscles.

Here are the exercises that I recommend, in an order that makes sense to me. 

Find an ART provider near you.

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Articles I wrote or contributed to:

Preventing Hamstring Injuries

When high hamstring pain is actually the obturator internus or quadratus femoris!

Low compression exercises for high hamstring pain.

Telegraph  The ART of Active Release Techniques for Injuries

STACK  New Age of Golf Training is Creating Stronger and More Athletic Golfers

Athletics Weekly  Performance Therapy for Greg Rutherford

220 Triathlon  ART- How is it different from sports massage

Vigour Magazine  ART can release tight muscles to improve performance

Progenex  ART for CrossFitters

FIT Institute  Research based hamstring therapies

TPI  What Performance Therapy Looks Like For Top Golfers

I have treated the public and professional athletes for 19 years, using soft tissue work, Chiropractic, and prescribing the latest research based rehabilitation. I teach workshops in the North East of England to health professionals.

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