Glute Activation - Why It's Important for Runners + How to Do It!
Activate those glutes! It's a lot harder than it sounds, but so important for runners to do. The glutes are where all of your power comes from when running so if you aren't activating them, you're not only missing out on a lot of power but also causing a lot of strain on other muscles to make up for the work. When you don't activate your glutes, you usually end up overusing your quads and hamstrings as the next largest muscle group, which ends up straining your hip joints and lower back. Everything works together.
How do you activate your glutes though?? It requires a few extra little things to get these muscles working before you go out on a run, but it's definitely worth the extra time to make it happen. It will change your running! Here are some of the techniques I use to ensure these muscles are working and how to incorporate them in to your training:
Do the Myrtl - Pre or Post Run
The Myrtl routine was created to strengthen hips and activate the glute muscles. It promotes mobility in your hip joints. Your hip joint is like a ball in a socket and running really wears that down. This routine helps to keep your hip joint lubricated and working properly. I don't know about you, but the hips were a major pain point for me caused by glutes that weren't activating - until I started incorporating the Myrtl routine into my training (also, some serious Active Release Therapy helped). You can do this as a dynamic warm up, a cool down routine, or on it's own. The first few times you do this routine, your hips feel a bit sore after.
Stretch and Work Those Glutes - ALL THE TIME
So.... I made a video :) This is my first video, so give me some slack because I am not comfortable doing videos at all but I stepped outside my zone and made one. I usually do the bridge pose with a ball before a run (coupled with the Myrtl) and I do the other two after my run to get my glutes working, but you can do these anytime. The goal is to get your glute muscles used to working, rather than just lugging them around and making your quads do the work.
Kettle Bell Workouts- On Hard Run Days
Stronger glutes means more power, especially once you've got the activation tools in place. On hard run days, like speed workout days or long run days, I follow up with a leg workout. This works best for me after my run when my legs are warm right after my run, even when they're tired. Make the hard days hard so the easy days are kept easy. I do a circuit of lunges, lateral lunges, squats, and kettle bell swings. Kettle bells have been a favorite addition to my training schedule. The swings really target your hips and glutes and give you more power.
Now time to make those glutes work!