Running & Gluteal Atrophy

Running is an excellent workout, but if you are not treating yourself pre- and post-run, your butt muscles could suffer serious consequences.
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You love to run, but it seems like your butt muscles are wasting away. Without the use of your butt muscles, you can get into some serious trouble with your back. Repetitive motion exercises, like running, can cause injuries that lead to muscle atrophy. Learning how to treat the muscles of the gluteals before and after running will help keep your butt muscles strong and prevent injury to your back.

The Gluteals

    The gluteals are made up of three butt muscles. The largest of the gluteals is the gluteus maximus. It is the most superficial, which means it is the outermost. It is the butt muscle that you can easily see and grab. The second muscle is called the gluteus medius and sits beneath and anterior to the gluteus maximus, which means it lies underneath and in front. The gluteus minimus is the deepest of the three and sits anterior to the gluteus medius.

Repetitive Motion Injury

    When you run, your butt muscles are constantly contracting. After an extended period of time, oxygen supply to your gluteals can decrease, resulting in an imbalance between oxygen supply and demand. This can stimulate cell death and the recruitment of fibroblasts -- collagen producing cells -- leading to the formation of scar tissue and adhesion in the muscle and fascia referred to as myofascial trigger points. Both cell death and myofascial trigger points can cause muscle atrophy. Another injury that can develop from running and lead to atrophy is tendinitis, which is inflammation of the tendon.

Pre-workout Atrophy Prevention

    Muscle atrophy is the wasting or loss of muscle tissue due to lack of firing or stimulation. Heating your gluteals before you go for a run will prepare them for activity and increase circulation, which will increase the amount of blood and, therefore, oxygen delivered to your gluteals. Increasing the oxygen delivery to your gluteals will help prevent cell death, myofascial trigger points and atrophy. However, if your gluteals are in really bad shape, see a bodyworker. Have him set up a treatment plan that focuses on muscle firing and myofascial release.

Post-workout Atrophy Prevention

    After your run, stretching and icing are imperative. Stretching in a warm room will help your gluteals to regain optimal fiber length, which is critical for performance, function and stimulation. The heat will keep your muscles pliable and sustain blood and oxygen circulation. Ice will prevent and treat tendinitis. Since the gluteus maximus inserts into the longest tendon of the human body, it is at high risk for developing tendinitis. Icing the side of your legs will calm down the iliotibial band, the tendon of the gluteus maximus, after you have finished stretching.

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