Recruiting Glutes vs. QuadsIs your strength transferring from a basic clam exercise to running? Are your glutes REALLY activating when you run? For most of us, we are very quad dominant. This means we over use our quadriceps when we should be using other muscles such as our glutes. Our sedentary lifestyle of sitting at work or relaxing on the couch has us disengaging our glutes. The quads have at a mechanical advantage to work. Also, the habitual use of quadriceps enhances the neural input from the brain is going to the quads and not the glutes. In other words, the wiring to the quads is better then wiring to the glutes. When running, demand on the muscles is so high we use whatever muscles are the easiest to recruit. The Quads.
I have seen and used different cues such as "stick out your butt"or"squeeze your butt as you stand up". However, most of my patients and clients have a difficulty "feeling the exercise". AND, the improved strength doesn't seem to translate to running.
PUSH YOUR KNEES BACKI have been using a different cue to activate the glutes while performing standing exercises such as squats and lunges. While you are performing squats or lunges (or any standing hip exercises i.e. box step ups), pretend like there is an object behind your knee and push back as you stand up. The gluteus maximus is responsible for hip extension, getting your thigh behind you body. However when your foot is fixed on the ground and the knee is given the cue to push back, this extends the knee AND hip. This will engage your gluteus maximus.
Stand up and perform a squat. When you stand up, you feel your thighs press down into the ground and push up. Now try a squat but give the cue for your knees to push back.
FEEL the burn in your glutes.
Now, think of this cue when running. You want to let your knee land normally (with a soft bend), then push back with the knee as your body is moving over your leg. You should feel like your legs are moving in a circle, almost like pedaling a bike. At first, I recommend incorporating this during a warming up, then into sides and finally into your short normal runs. The best way to feel this is up hill sprints!
THIS CUE WORKS BEST IF YOU MIDFOOT OR FOREFOOT STRIKE!
So on top of performing clams, leg lifts and squats add this "push your knee back" cue to the standing exercises.
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.