Are you dealing with plantar fasciitis? ITB syndrome, shin splints, Achilles pain? Patellofemoral syndrome or low back pain? Chances are, your glutes are contributing to and possibly even causing these injuries. It’s not that your glutes are doing something wrong—it’s that they’re not doing their job at all!
Lazy Butt Syndrome: What’s the problem?
Your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus provide lateral stability to the pelvis as you move forward. When these muscles don’t engage, your femur rotates inward and your hip collapses. This excessive motion in the pelvis increases instability in your knees, ankles, and feet. Unstable levers cannot tolerate high loads (either intensity or volume) and tend to get injured.
The thing about non-firing glutes is that they are silent culprits. They probably feel great, but this is because they aren’t doing any work! Your quads, TFL, or hamstrings are taking up slack for your inhibited glutes—performing a function they weren’t designed to perform—and they become overloaded as a result.
But I’m not lazy! I work out a lot! Why is my butt such a deadbeat?
Most of us spend our lives in a perpetual state of flexion. Long hours sitting at our desks or in our cars shorten the hip flexors on the front of the pelvis and turn off the glutes on the other side. Our lifestyles create inflexibilities and weaknesses that translate into postural imbalances when we run.
Runners are especially prone to this particular imbalance because they tend to focus their efforts training the muscles that drive them forward (quads, calves, etc.), and not the smaller muscles that stabilize the pelvis. (Climbers and skate skiers for example typically do not present with the same muscle imbalances, as their sports require powerful lateral stabilizers.)
This might not be news to a lot of you. Maybe you’ve been doing your glute exercises religiously: clamshells, squats, fire hydrants, lateral walking, bridges…but has it worked?