We are currently in the heart of running season, so now is a great time to work on increasing stability and preventing injury. One of the best ways to help prevent running-related injuries is to strengthen the lower extremity and core, especially the gluteal muscles. When running, there are certain elements of runners stride requiring different types of gluteal activation. For example, increased gluteus medius activation is required for the mid-stance phase of running and increased gluteus maximus activation is required to provide the power needed to run up a hill. The gluteal muscles also assist with proximal stability, which helps ensure the knee and ankle are in proper alignment. Thus, it is an important muscle group to focus on during your training program.
So, which gluteal strengthening exercises should you include in your workout routine? A study by Reiman et al. (2012) used a systematic review to look at the amount of gluteus medius and maximus activation during specific strengthening exercises. The following chart, taken from their study, looks at specific exercises and the percent of maximal voluntary isometric contraction of the muscle.
Gluteus Medius Exercise Ranking
Gluteus Maximus Exercise Ranking
These Electromyography (EMG) studies show you how much the muscle is working during each exercise, which may assist in choosing the exercises that are right for you. Included below is a link to the full article, and the chart with the specific gluteus maximus exercises from the study, and a few of the exercises demonstrated by our own Freedom team. Some of these exercises are high-level activities and should be used with caution. Ask your therapist or doctor, based on your fitness level, if it is appropriate and safe to perform them. If you have any questions regarding training, running analysis, or working through a pre-existing injury, please contact any of our Freedom Physical Therapy locations for a free injury or prevention screening today. Happy running!
Bolgla LA, Loudon JK, Reiman MP 2012 A Literature Review of studies evaluating gluteus maxims and gluteus medius activation during rehabilitation exercises. Physiotherapy theory and Practice, 28(4):257-268