Strong Glutes Improve Running Performance

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There has long been a disconnect between runners and strength training. 

Simply, runners would rather run than lift weights. 

The reason being: they do not see the value of training for strength. Everyone has their different reasons but at the end of the day strength training is not prioritized. 

The unfortunate side of this scenario is that a lot of runners are hurt 80% of the time. One of the best defenses against these injuries would be strength. 

Running is a plyometric activity. The body is asked to stride by putting force into the ground and quickly rebounding the leg up, propelling the body forward. 

The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends that people that are going to perform plyometric activities should be able to squat their bodyweight (women) or 1.5x bodyweight (men). 

I do not believe that running was the target of these guidelines and i do not think that we need to wait that long before people are allowed to run. Instead, that example is just to show that strength is necessary. 

When we run, every stride requires deceleration forces of up to 7x someone’s bodyweight. Without strength in place, the body can only withstand those forces for so long. 

Unfortunately, running does not build leg strength and often beats the body up pretty good. 

cardio leg day

Stronger runners will run faster and resist injury much better. 

Everyday I work with young athletes that are trying to get faster. Once their running technique improves, their speed goes up. This is short lived and until they get stronger, speed will stay where it is. 

I also have an example of instant improvement on running technique. I am currently getting a girl ready for the basketball season who is coming off ankle surgery. She went about 4 months without running and was in a boot for half that time.

Her foot was collapsing in when relearning how to run. This flaw increases her susceptibility to future lower leg injuries. 

Instead of more cueing and more running, we worked on glute activation and the results were immediate.

The video on the right is after, and the ankle is in a much better position after the glute activation. The problem is not completely solved, but it is much better than before. 

The reason her technique was off was not due to lack of running volume or conscious technique flaw. Her glutes were not firing when she ran and threw off the lower body mechanics. 

All we had to do was 2- 15 second single leg bridges on each leg and her running improved. 

Her training priority is and has been strength. It is the hardest quality to train because it takes the longest to develop. Luckily, strength is easily maintained and takes a long time to go away.

When the lower body becomes stronger, these changes start to become automatic and the re-injury risk drops dramatically. 

Strength training cannot be ignored for those that run. It is the best protection for injury and most efficient way to improve performance.