One of my consistent injuries when running has been my right IT band, and after seeing a doctor about it, he helped me pinpoint the real issue: my glute on my right side wasn’t strong enough. Turns out this happened because I’m right handed and actually, my left leg was the stabilizing leg from years of playing volleyball, tennis, and softball. My left glute became stronger, and the right side needs extra focus to keep up.
Weak glutes are not unusual for runners who use their hamstrings and quads more. According to Nikki Kimball at Runner’s World, “When we run, the glutes hold our pelvis level and steady, extend our hip, propel us forward, and keep our legs, pelvis, and torso aligned. So when our glutes are faulty, our entire kinetic chain gets disrupted. Studies link glute weakness to Achilles tendinitis, shinsplints, runner’s knee, and iliotibial-band syndrome. Indeed, many injured runners I treat come to physical therapy with strong abdominals and backs but weak glutes.
“Part of the problem is that glutes aren’t as active as other running muscles during routine activities, which can make your hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves disproportionately stronger. Another issue is that most strength-training routines don’t isolate the glutes. If an exercise requires several muscles to perform the movement, the majority of the work will be done by the strongest of those muscles. Also, tight muscles, specifically the hip flexors, can inhibit the glutes and prevent their muscle fibers from firing.”
So how do you know if your glutes are in need of help? Check out this video to get you started:
You can also assess yourself with the Single-Leg Stance test here. Then check out how to incorporate the Hip Hike, Single-Leg Deadlift, Three-Way Leg Raises, Lunge Stretch, Single-Leg Squat, and Side-Lying Leg Lift.
I know my simple efforts to incorporate squats into my work-out routine helped a lot, so adding in several strength training exercises will make a great different in your running too!