As some of you may know I’ve dealt with a pesky weak left glute for some time now. It has a tendency to rear it’s lazy head now and then depending on the volume of my training and the terrain I’m running on. Recently after my snowshoe running season I had some serious hip pain and after five days of COMPLETE REST [Rest is an essential component to pre-habbing any running injury. REST before it turns into a real injury and don’t ever run through it hoping it will get better-that’s called denial.] I made strengthening my left glute my job.
I went back to all my old notes from past visits to the physical therapist and did a little research on YouTube to find the best exercises to engage the glute. It seems that my glute just wasn’t firing properly and my hamstring had taken over.
It’s been about four weeks since I initially took those 5 days off and performing a select few exercises on a daily basis on the left side ONLY has made a significant difference in the way my piriformis and high hamstring feel.
On my run I feel more glute engagement on the left side and it feels as if there is more power in each stride. I’m still trying to get into see my physical therapist to have her assess the progress and see if there’s anything else I’ve been missing. But what I’ve learned is that maintaining this level of strength is going to take daily practice, so these moves have become a part of my daily routine, some of which I do right before my run to “wake up” my glute.
Here are five exercises I’ve been doing on my weaker side (the left side) to help get it caught up and as strong as my right side.
Prone Glute Activation
Lying face down, engage glute. Flex foot, pulling toes under, then lift the knee. Lower knee, extend the foot. Repeat. Focus on keeping the core and glute engaged.
Bridge with Leg Lift
Assume a bridge position. Engage glute and extend opposite leg, lower back down and repeat. The more advanced version of this would be to keep the leg extended and lift and lower the hips in a traditional bridge.
Single Leg “Running Man”
From a standing position lift the right leg (or left, which ever your stronger leg is) in a bent knee position. Standing on one leg, balance by driving down from the glute into the ground. Engage the core to stay balanced, then swing the right knee and arms in a running motion.
This is the ground version of a single leg step up. I started off doing these on the ground and have advanced to a step. To perform the move reach your right (or left, which ever your stronger leg is) behind you in a backwards lunge. Then using your left glute to drive the motion come up to standing, swinging your right leg through and lifting the knee to 90 degrees. Step back with the right leg and repeat.
Lay with your torso and head supported by a foam roller. Steady yourself by engaging your core and “knitting” the ribs together. Extend arms above and clasp hands or press them together lightly. Alternate lifting feet of the ground and extending legs while maintaining balance.
Repeat each of these exercises 2-3 times with 10-15 reps of each.
Check out these other great posts that highlight common injuries and exercises to help you overcome them.
Allie at Vita Train for Life
Angela at Happy Fit Mama
Laura at This Runner’s Recipes
Nellie at Brooklyn Active Mama
Carly from Fine Fit Daily
Have you ever experienced any running injuries? How did you treat them and how do you prevent them from coming back?
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Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com