By Fliss Doyle
Understanding the Muscle Groups...
The Hamstrings and Glute Max are your main leg extensors meaning they contract to pull the leg backwards when walking or running. Due to its size it is a powerful muscle also used for movements like stepping on to a stool, climbing and running.
Glute Minimus is the smallest of the Complex and pulls the Femur (thigh bone) outwards as well as influencing the pelvis during contraction. Glute Medius is the key to a happy and healthy lower quadrant (posh term for legs). It also rotates the Femur outwards as well as lifting the opposite side of the pelvis during walking and running. It acts as a key pelvic stabiliser.
Using the theory of the Kinetic chain (the belief that every part of the body is connected and therefore influences each other) the stability of the pelvis will impact on the health and biomechanics of the knees, ankles, back, shoulder, neck etc. It is vital that these muscles are kept in good working order to maintain total body equilibrium.
So called because of their similarity to a prepared pig when hung up, this group works in a supporting role to the Glutes. With a little help from their friends, the Adductors (inside thigh), they increase the range of movement during extension. It would be like asking a friend to join your side in a tug of war competition when your team were tiring. This is not their main job, however, and repeatedly asking them to do this only tires them out. This overworking is the origin of bad biomechanics causing a common condition called Runners Knee, a painful bursitis around the knee caused by excessive traction by the Adductors.
Are Your GLutes Working Properly?
- Lie completely flat on your stomach.
- Ask your friend to place one of their hands on your left Hamstring and the other hand on your left Glute.
- Lift your entire leg off the floor SLOWLY; the movement should originate from your hip NOT your knee. They are feeling for which muscles contracts first. This will feel like twitch or a hardening of the muscle.
- Note which one contracts first (you may need to extend the leg a few times).
- Repeat on the right leg.
Ideally your Glute should be firing first followed by your Hamstring. If this is not the case you will need to have a look at changing this by loosening Hamstrings through stretching, massage, kinesiotape, foamrolling, acupuncture etc. and by strengthening Glutes.
Go through stages 1 and 2 again but this time before stage 3, squeeze your bottom together. Follow the next four stages. You should find that the movement is easier or your range greater. This is because your Glutes have been activated.
How Can You Strengthen Your GLutes?
This can be done with or without weights.
Single Leg GLute Bridge
Lunge With Twist
Think "Prehab", not "Rehab"!
Better Biomechanics Prevents Injuries...
Hamstring strains: Due to them picking up the slack they become tight and are more likely to tear.
Anterior knee pain: Poor Glute Med strength causes the excessive load through anterior structures on the front of the knee.
Foot issues: Again, excessive loading through the front and the inside knee due to poor glute strength causes more loading through the inside of the foot, specifically the inside arch.
Shoulder problems: Muscles in the back that work with the glutes attach on to the ribs. Poor rib mobilisations affect the health and stability of the shoulder.
The theory of the kinetic chain is vital to understanding how one issue with a certain group of muscles affects the entire body. This is never more evident than with the gluteal complex so it is paramount that these are kept in good working order.
Don’t forget: you can’t run without a bum!
About the Author...
Visit: http://fliss100.wix.com/elite for further information on the treatment and advice that Fliss can offer.