Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Neglected Ones

Glute Medius

This might be a bit overdue since it was supposed to be a "part 2" to my last post where I was blogging about the importance of strength and the benefits I have been seeing with working to get strong for the past year. It is a little delayed because I was putting my strength to the test in Tuscon for a long weekend getting in some warm weather training. This trip was just Adam and I .....yes so..... very rare! But it we had a great time just hanging out and doing some training. Whether it was trying to keep up with Adam on the bike on the Gates Pass loop on my 3rd w/o of the day..., or climbing up Mt. Lemmon....my strengh was put to the test.

As I was saying in my previous post, as triathletes we over work some muscles and others.......get neglected. We swim, we bike and we run. We move forward only in the most streamline position we can. And...we do it for hours on end! We use our quads and IT bands, and anterior shoulder and neck muscles, but we forget about our glutes, or lower traps. Doing this long enough....and you'll end up with the posture of a gorilla. I went to a continuing ed course 1 time for physical therapy and when you do this you get evaluated and inspected. Standing there getting my posture assessed and the other PT.s who knew nothing about me immediately said...she's a swimmer ...ha ha ha I laughed, if they only knew!

The most common injury I see in the clinic when it comes to marathoners or triathletes, is ITB syndrome. That is Iliotibial band syndrome for those who have been lucky enough to have never hear of it. Second runner up is piriformis syndrome, and not far behind is plantar fascitis and or Achilles tendonitis. Each of these mostly likely develops because of muscle imbalance. This means somewhere in the body things are to tight....and else where, things aren't strong enough resulting extra strain to somewhere in the chain.

So lets focus on ITB syndrome since it is the most common. We spend hours running forward, sitting and bent over our bikes. This uses quads, and ITB a lot. The job of the ITB is to stabilize the knee in standing, and in running which is single leg stance it is actually upwards of 3x your body weight for every step you take running. Then add that the ITB is actually a tendon/ connective tissue down by the knee which means there is not great circulation like in muscles which equals easy irritation. With all the forward swimming biking and running the poor glute medius gets neglected. Its important job is to stabilize the hips in single leg stance. ....keeping the hips level and not dropping or sagging on the opposite side. You've seen it in the race photos...the one that looks like you're doing the "jig" because 1 hip is dropped. When the hip drops or sags, then all sorts of things can happen depending on how you are put together. That hip can roll in (biking or running), placing strain on the knee, you could be landing harder on 1 side when running causing shin splints which lead up to stress fx's, or simply landing improperly causing Achilles pain.

Same goes for shoulder or neck pain. We swim mostly freestyle throwing our arms forward for yards and meters at a time, then we slump over in aerobars for hours at a time.......and top it off with hours in the car commuting , or at the desk or computer working. Everything is moving anterior or forward.

So, you see how important it is to stretch what is tight, and strengthen what is weak or not used! Don't deny that your posture is that of a gorilla! Some of these injuries are lurking. While seasons may have gone by injury free, you are still using all the same muscles over and over mile after mile, meter after meter. Eventually, if you don't wake up the neglected ones....an imbalance will likely develop. Maybe not this year....but maybe its next year. It may show up as injury or even poor performance.

So do your body good, work those forgotten muscles, and stretch those that get overworked...and have patience. The results are only positive.....getting to the finish line faster, and injury free, and of course....... not walking around like a gorilla.

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