Last week my friend Sam and I were doing our weekly easy run together in beautiful Chautauqua Park (photo of Chautauqua Park) and we get talking about a common injury we’ve both had, plantar fasciitis. Several years ago, this condition kept me from running for nine months. This injury really hit Sam, an ultradistance runner, at the end of last year and he is continuing to struggle with it now. Recently, this injury has crept up on me again, since I haven’t been as diligent with my strengthening exercises and recovery.
During our conversation, Sam mentioned that he had recently met with massage therapist, Josh Shadle with TRI-Massage (tri-massage.com). Josh provided some deep tissue massage, for muscles that were tight and plantar fascia, and he assessed that Sam needed to strengthen his glutes and provided some exercises to help Sam.
Weak glutes and outer hips muscles are a common issue among runners. One of the big reasons is that we sit on our butts for hour after hour, day after day. Having weak glutes and outer hip muscles is a problem because when we run we don’t have sufficient strength to stabilize the leg when we have one foot on the ground. As a result, the hip and then the rest of the leg internally rotates (basically inward collapsing of the hip, knee, and ankle) leading to overpronation of the foot. As this is repeated, we significantly increase our chances of developing plantar fasciitis, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, and issues with the knee, including patellofemoral syndrome. Yikes!
Over the next couple of blogs I will discuss assessments for areas commonly weak in runners, and ways to functionally strengthen these areas to help you minimize the risk of developing the aforementioned injuries. Also, increasing glute strength, as well as core strength, will also increase your power and allow you to run faster.
Assessments for Glute and Outer Hip Muscle Strength
One way to assess glute and outer hip muscle strength is to assess it statically. That is, while not running.
Here’s how to do it:
- Stand without shoes, preferably in bare feet
- Put your hands on your hips
- Stand with your right foot on the floor and raise your leg off the floor in front of you until the upper leg is approximately parallel with the ground
- Relax the shoulders and look straight ahead
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, have someone recording (video) you as you are standing
- Repeat on the left leg
- Then repeat bringing the leg in back of you until the lower leg is approximately parallel with the floor (this will probably be a little easier)
How did you do? Were you solid as a rock with your one foot on the floor, or was it a struggle?
If you weren’t able to stay steady for 30 seconds, your glutes and outer hip muscles are either weak and/or not been properly activated.
In the next post, I will discuss what you can do to strengthen the glutes, so that you can be more stable on one foot, and prevent injuries from occurring while you run.
Please let me know if you have any questions, or if I can be of help in any way.
Your friend and coach,
Jay Dicharry. Anatomy for Runners. Skyhorse Publishing, New York, 2012.
Richard Hansen. “Injuries” Sports Medicine Clinic, Boulder, CO, February 2015.