Weak and imbalanced glutes and the troubles they can cause is not something that had ever crossed my mind over my journey to fitness. I’ve had trouble with my knees as I played basketball for 10 years and had my right anterior cruciate ligament reconstructed and thought that would be an ongoing issue but I found it wasn’t. Sitting at a desk for 6-7 hours a day is not a natural position for the body to be in. I have been doing this for 15 years. The butt muscles (Gluteus Maximus, Gluteus Medias and Gluteus Minimus), otherwise known as the glutes, will be stretched when sitting down, and the hip flexors will be constantly shortened. This is not a natural state for the body to be in and over time this is going to cause some damage when exercising. The gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle in our whole body, if it’s not firing this is going to lead to a whole lot of problems.
When I started getting fit I wanted a new passion like I had for basketball. I gave that up thinking my knees couldn’t cope and I didn’t want to go through another ACL reconstruction. So I began running, yep that seems like a good idea! No twisting and turning forward running movement, knees will be fine I’d done the rehab they felt strong. So running it was, and the first issue that popped up was slight soreness in my hips after 20 mins or so. Just felt like aches from running they’ll be fine I thought.
Wasn’t till a few months of this pain getting worse and worse and the repetitive stress on the legs and hips of running that eventually I felt something pop and that was it I could hardly walk! Thinking this was it I’ve got a bad hip now. Great!
I visited my GP thinking I need to get this fixed, I had no idea what it was, why it was happening or what I could do to fix it! Not the smartest doctor I don’t think, just sent me for a Ultrasound, he thinks I’ve got tendonitis, results came back. Nothing was found, no bursitis of the hip either. Gave me a Cortisone shot and sent me on my way!
Of course this relieved the pain that was what he gave it to me for. But it didn’t fix the problem and unbeknownst to me that I was actually still injured. I got back out running again (relatively pain free) and even completed a Tough Mudder and Eureka Tower stair climb during this time.
Fast forward three months and my hip muscles were a ticking time bomb and although I was having pain running again now, I just kept going. And thought well this is what I have to put up with when I jog. I competed in a Triathlon, and after my swim and cycle I began my run, which was only 2kms, (I had stopped running anything longer) and 500m from home I felt that pop again in the right hip, POW! Felt like it ripped something also, I struggled to the finish line in a lot of pain. S**T this was really bad. Sad face Nikki.
Heading back to my GP I told him straight up, give me and MRI I need to know exactly what this is, cortisone shot was a temporary relief to a problem that was chronic, and I need to take the time and rehabilitate this properly.
Got my results, told him I had another Tough Mudder coming up in a month, he said come back for a cortisone shot if you need it… Um… NO THANKS!
I saw an Osteopath for this also, who is a runner himself. I had torn a muscle called the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL) in my right hip. It’s a tiny little muscle that joins at the hip to the knee, I’d read about it extremely briefly through my studies. He told me this is a good injury and not to worry. He said it could have been the actual hip bone and I could never run again! Ahh relief!
What caused this muscle to tear was what I wanted to know. He knows I work in an office, I’ve sat in this position at a desk for 15 years! My glutes, to put it a simple way, just stopped working when I ran. And this little TFL muscle was doing far too much work than it was designed for. So it tore, was bound to happen with all the running I was doing.
Ok so problem is diagnosed, what now!? My osteo said I have to start strengthening and stretching my glutes to build them up to the powerhouse they should be while I’m running, they should be the power muscle forcing my pelvis through each stride. He said just to get out there jogging again but shorter times and regularly stretching after, heat bag at nights and treatment with him. And to stick to this like glue!
It’s a long process but in the long run I literally will be able to do a long run, pain free! That’s the goal. I gave up my dream of a third Tough Mudder for now and put my smart cap on, you’re a trainer now Nik, what would you tell a client to do?
Some basic exercises to do for activating the glutes are bridges and lunges, it will fire them up and the stronger they are the more efficient all your workouts will become, and if you’re sitting all day, get up and go for a walk at lunchtime!
Moral of the story? Well I think there’s two, there’s no easy fixes for injuries, and they need to be taken care of correctly and precisely if you don’t want them to happen again. And your butt, if you sit on it all day it’s going to need some extra special attention so it can work it’s correct way and give you the best possible performance.
Guest blog from Client : Nikki