I have a real problem. Actually it is more a pain in the ass. I have become increasingly aware that I just don’t use my ass when I run. Pretty much all of my running involves Quads and Calves, but very little Hamstring or Glutes.
Apparently I am not alone either.
If you are prone to sit a lot during the day, as I am, then you could be at risk. The reason being when you sit a lot, we tend to have poor form. Leaning forward, head forward, arms forward these all effect your range of motion. Especially in the anterior. So, we effectively spend 6 hrs a day immobilizing our glutes and then we go for a one hour run and expect them to fire perfectly.
The crazy thing is that our body can and will shut down our glutes to protect ourselves in the event of an injury. And not crazy broken bone, major catastrophe injuries either. Something as simple as a sprained ankle will be enough. You can read more about that here http://bretcontreras.com/how-to-fix-glute-imbalances/
So how can I tell?
Ok, so you agree this sounds “not good”, but how can we tell if this effects you. There are a number of techniques.
This article on Runners World (http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/hibernating-heinies) suggests standing with your back against a wall. Does your head, shoulders, buttocks and heels all touch the wall? Does it feel natural? If not, then you could be out of alignment. The article also suggest trying Donkey kicks and see if you fatigue quickly.
Personally I am a bigger fan of the Chair of Death! Besides, just sounding cool it is a good test to see if you can actually utilize your glutes. This article (http://www.fleetfeethartford.com/sports-medicine/sports-medicine-corner/the-chair-of-death-a-simple-glute-assessment-tool) does a good job of explaining the technique.
Help me fix this
If you have just found out that this is an issue for you and you are freaking out. First off, calm down we got this.
The good news is that we can fix this. The bad news is it is going to take some work. Ya I know.
Ok first thing is we have to know what it feels like to fire your glutes. You might be one of the lucky ones and can do this easily, but most people have a hard time flexing their butt.
The two articles that I referenced in the assessment part both have some real good exercises. But I have also found a couple of great videos.
So for the next couple of months I am going to be focusing a lot on my glutes and hamstring which will hopefully improve my running stride. If I can get more efficient it could make a big difference in some races this year.