Do you sometimes experience back and knee pain while running (whether out on the road or on the treadmill)?
Maybe you’ve been advised to keep your glutes engaged during the lifting action of the leg to counter knee pain. However, for most athletes the glutes are already the strongest muscles in the body (glutes often tend to take over in back extension and lifts), so it’s actually ideal for the body to learn to use them a little less. What is important is to rather keep the whole leg engaged to both protect the knee from serious injury in the long-term (wear and tear adds up over miles) and to treat pain in the short-term – this will also be more beneficial for your back in the long term than simply keeping your glutes engaged.
Strengthening the hamstring muscles is critical in safeguarding your knees and circumventing back niggles. Many athletes think their hamstrings are tight, and believe conventional hamstring stretches are key to keeping their backs and knees healthy. This is correct to some degree, but for many, hypermobility in the hamstring attachment can lead to injuries. If the front of the leg is functionally stronger than the back of the leg, hyperextension (especially in the knee) is common.
Try this little flow sequence, focusing on trying to keep your hamstrings engaged throughout (even when they’re stretching and lengthening). In the standing poses (even the backbend), try to favour your hamstrings to keep the knees soft, but active. In the belly poses, try to prioritize hamstrings over glutes – allowing the lower back to release a bit more, keeping it longer, and giving the muscle group that tends to be functionally weaker a chance to strengthen:-)
That’s it for now – see you all for playtime on the mat😉
Till next time – Keep it Light😘