Ready to take your running to the next level? Don't forget about your glutes!

Group of Young People Running next to image of person stretching their leg

It's no secret that runners need strong glutes.

But, what a lot of runners don't realize is that they're not truly activating their glutes during a run. This can lead not only to inefficient running, but imbalance and potential injury. Today we're going to talk about ways YOU can activate your glutes and improve your running efficiency, overall performance and get stronger, with EVERY step. Let's get started!

What are glutes and why do they matter for runners?

The three gluteal muscles are the largest muscles in the body. The gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus work together to extend, rotate, and abduct the hips.

For runners, the glutes provide power and propulsion - stabilizing the pelvis & hips, and controlling our leg alignment while running. Activated glutes are especially  important for runners  with a history of knee injuries as they work to prevent the knees from collapsing inwards.

These muscles can improve running efficiency by helping to maintain an upright posture and by increasing stride length. In addition to all of these performance benefits, having strong glutes can also help to prevent injuries by absorbing impact and reducing stress on the knees, hips and lower back - but only if they're working properly.

The best way to strengthen & activate the glutes is to realign the body and practice exercises that target these muscles.

How to activate your glutes for running

Group of women in a class doing squats next to a sunset with a person running

Since we know that the glutes are an essential part of the running equation - balance, power, propulsion, efficiency, what can you do if you find that your glutes are under-active? Or worse yet, what if you if these muscles aren't firing properly at all?

Non-active glutes lead to imbalance and injuries, BUT there are a few simple exercises that you can start with today to activate your glutes and improve your running form:

  • Squats. Tone your legs and strengthen your glutes at the same time!
  • Lunges. This exercise works your glutes, hips, and thighs all at once.
  • Bridge. This move is not only great for your glutes, but it can also help to improve your posture.
  • Single-leg Hip Hikes and Fire Hydrants are great for targeting the gluteus medius
  • Clamshells and side-lying leg lifts work well for strengthening the gluteus minimus

These exercises are important, but they aren't the entire solution.

So what's the number one thing you can do to strengthen & activate your glutes? Go barefoot!

The Importance of Going Barefoot

One of the best things that you can do for your glutes (and your entire body) is to spend time walking barefoot on natural surfaces each day (grass, sand, dirt, etc.). Walking barefoot on natural surfaces is actually essential for healthy feet. Not only does time spent barefoot compel your muscles to work harder, but it aligns the body with its natural state AND it activates your innate proprioceptive capabilities (the body's built-in sensory awareness) through the arch of the foot.

As any architect will tell you, arches are incredibly strong. They're able to support a tremendous amount of weight without caving in. The human foot is actually quite similar, with a mid-foot arch that helps to absorb impact and distribute weight evenly across the joints. When this arch is strong, it can help to prevent pain in the heel and arch areas, as well as injury throughout the body. However, when the arch is weak, it can lead to tension on the plantar fascia and a host of other problems (like non-activated glutes).

However, anything that comes between the natural ground and your feet - even a thin sock - interferes with the natural proprioceptive capabilities of your body.

If you can't be barefoot on natural surfaces all the time, what can you do?

Close up image of grass next to person walking through sand

That's where Barefoot Science comes in - our insoles are designed to address all of these issues. By progressively reintroducing stimulation to the mid-arch, Barefoot Science helps to build strength in the foot muscles over time. Our foot strengthening system of inserts replicates the positive effects of being barefoot (while you're still wearing shoes) - re-training & rebalancing your body with each and every step you take. This not only helps to prevent pain, but can also improve posture and reduce stress on the knees, hips, and lower back.

So if you can't train or spend time barefoot each day - make sure that you have Barefoot Science under your feet!

Final thoughts on how to improve your running efficiency with activated glutes

There's no question that our understanding of how to run more efficiently has come a long way in recent years. As we continue to learn more about the biomechanics of running, one area that deserves special attention is the role of the glutes.

Glutes are the often-overlooked powerhouse muscles of the body - but, strong glutes are a key component to efficient running & balanced movement. In this post, we’ve shown you how to activate your glutes for better running performance and shared some exercises & tips to help strengthen them.

If you're ready to take your running performance to the next level, don't forget to build the Barefoot Science insoles into your daily routine – our unique design encourages proper foot alignment and helps engage all of the muscles in your feet and legs for a more powerful stride. What are you waiting for?

Start strengthening those glutes today!