Why your butt matters

butt

You say running and I think - quads, calves, knees and hamstrings. (I also think cheap, free therapy, a reason to buy new workout clothes and long beachy runs along the ocean. But I digress.)

Quads. Well that makes sense. You need your quadriceps as part of the swing phase of running. You know, that part when your foot comes off the ground and lasts until your foot strikes down again. (The repeatable moment in the run when you are most likely cursing the decision to go running.)

Bolt It's your quads doing the work, pulling your leg and foot up, down and around. (Thank you quads for that.)

Check out Usain Bolt mid-swing phase. Oh my, what a nice swing you have....

Take a quick peek down towards your toes.

When was the last time you appreciated your legs?

My quads are a big (pun intended) reason I have a hard time finding skinny pants that fit. As a runner, my quads are pretty strong which I appreciate on mile 12 of a half marathon..but sometimes end up silently cursing in the dressing room at Joe's Jeans.

Ultimately I do love my quads. I appreciate how they've carried me across finish lines, up mountains and on many adventures.

Now onto the calves. How often do you check out a runner's legs and they have lovely calf muscle definition? (Don't lie. I see you checking me out.)

I do love me a good calf muscle on a runner. So so so sexy.

The calf muscle's designed to absorb impact and help push your foot off of the ground. Take a moment to flex and extend your foot. The calf muscle is also a key part of creating that movement, giving you spring in your step.

And the knees. We can't walk about anything running related without the knees coming up. (And no, I don't mean in high knee fashion.)

The knee works in close harmony with all the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding it, playing a big role in the swing, push off, touchdown (Patriots!) and follow through of each step.

And the hamstrings, aka the hammies. Mention hamstrings to a runner and more often then not, they will comment on how tight this muscle group is. When running, your hamstrings contract and help to bring your knee back, bending it along the way.

buttSo what role does the butt have? And why on earth does the butt matter?

The butt, or in non-middle school terms, your glutes, play a key part of this whole thing we call running. I would say that the glutes and hips play a very important, often overlooked part of running.

Your glutes stabilize your hips, which impacts how you engage your quads, hamstrings, knee and calf muscles to name a few key roles of the glutes. Your glutes support your trunk and your core, keeping you upright.

On the flip side, weak glutes lead to unstable hips which in turn impacts your knees, IT band, ankles and so on and so forth. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I gotta lay this on the line.

Ever tried to run while bending over? No? Give it awhirl and tell me what you think.

How often do you strengthen your glutes?

Today I want to share with you an exercise that is great for runners and athletes alike.

It's a simple side leg raise.

SideLegRaises You can start in the same position that I'm holding in the photo to the right. If this is too much for you, then bring your hips to the floor.

Raise your upper or top leg as high as you comfortably can. In the case of the photo, it would be my right leg.

In order to keep this as a glute strengthener, keep your toes of your raised leg pointed downward. If your toes point up, you'll open up your hips and engage your hip flexors.

Do 10-25 reps on each side, with 3 cycles of each.

"Running is a pain in the ass. But it sure does give me a nice one." ~Nike.