I was chatting to a triathlete friend of mine the other morning and discussing physio visits, injuries and performances. She was lamenting the fact that, despite all the training triathletes do, they very often have a butt that “does not work”. The observation is a relevant one and it begs the questions “WHY?”
There are a couple of obvious reasons.
Firstly, all the training time spent across the 3 disciplines may not make up for the many hours we spend sitting at desks, in cars, in front of the TV – and even in the saddle of a bike. This appears to be increasingly the case for Masters competitors with the greater demands placed on their time by work and family commitments.
Secondly, most triathletes are aerobically fit and very strong willed – the effect of which can be that the body and/or the mind will find a way to compensate for areas of weakness eg the quads will “kick in” to cover for glutes that aren’t producing enough force.
Experience with many athletes across multiple sports tells me that strong, well conditioning glutes are essential for making an athlete more efficient, to improve performance and to reduce the risk of injury.
So what exactly do the glutes DO?
To answer that we need to recognise that there are 3 key muscles that make up “the glutes”. Each has a particular role in athletic performance… and in life.
Glute Max (Gluteus Maximus)
This muscle is the power unit of the hip.It is the large “cheek” of your backside. Its primary job is to powerfully extend the hip – the key action in running and cycling. A weakness in glute max will often lead to problems with calves and lower back as these parts of the body are forced to absorb more of the ground forces than they ideally would.
Glute Med (Gluteus Medius)
Glute Med is found on the side of your backside – towards the outside of the hip, For athletes the primary role of Glute Med is to provide stability in a single leg stance (think ground contact in running). A weak or poorly functioning Glut Med can lead to issues with achilles, shin splints and pains in and around the knee. Glute med also adducts the hip (moves it away from the body’s midline)
Glute Min (Gluteus Minimus)
This is the smallest of the glute muscles and it lies underneath Glute Med. It works in conjunction with Glute Med to provide stability to the hip and to help abduct the leg.
As you can see, a weak or poorly performing glute can have a significant injury impact on an athlete.
In good news… the glutes can be trained to not only reduce the risk of injury but to provide a more efficient and powerful performance.
In our next two blogs we will look at:
- Exercises to activate the glutes so that they work more effectively and so that they engage at the most appropriate time
- Exercises which will strengthen the glutes and provide more power to enhance performance
If you would like more information and/or more assistance in exercise selection and prescription feel free to contact Damn Fit Strength and Conditioning: firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the website https://www.damnfitsc.com.au/contact/ or call Dave directly on 0426 205 277