As you may (or may not!) be aware, I love to run. Over the years (post spinal fusion), I have ran 6 half marathons, countless 10k’s and over 60 parkruns. Pandemic aside, I’m a member of a local run club and was training for a marathon this time last year.
Over the last few months, I have not been able to run due to an injury to (I think) a tendon in my right leg, which causes ankle and leg pain when I run. I have seen a physio and been told the issue is caused by weak glute and leg muscles on my right side.
Most people have weaknesses and one side weaker than the other, but this can be even more pronounced in those with scoliosis. If you have scoliosis, it doesn’t mean you can’t run but running will quickly highlight any issues, weaknesses or inbalances you have.
Therefore, if you have scoliosis and run, it is crucial that you incorporate strength training into your routine at least twice a week.
Over the last few months, I have been focusing on strengthening my glutes in the hope that I will be strong enough to run again soon.
I thought I’d share the strength exercises I have been doing (and will continue to do) in the hope that it may help someone else prevent injury.
These are my favourite glute exercises as I find them easy to do and, best of all, not a strain on my back. These exercises can be done with (or without) a resistance band. I prefer using a resistance band though as you can really feel the burn!
Disclaimer: Please note, I am not a physiotherapist or qualified fitness trainer. These exercises are based on my own experiences. Always consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before starting any new exercise programme to avoid injury and to make sure you are doing exercises correctly. This post contains affiliate links.
According to Runners World, strong glute muscles are absolutely crucial for runners. Strong glutes can not only help you to run faster but most importantly, having strong glutes can help to prevent injury. Many studies link weak glutes to injuries, such as the one I have acquired.
In fact, simply squeezing your glute muscles for 15 minutes a day can increase your endurance, strength and help to prevent injury.
Additionally, strong glutes have been linked to a decrease in low back pain in chronic back pain patients.
If you have scoliosis, whether you run or not, strength exercises such as the ones below are important to do regularly. Strength exercises can help to keep your body and muscles strong, support your back and in turn, help to reduce back pain.
Benefits of Resistance Bands
The exercises below can be performed with or without a resistance band. I personally love my resistance band, as they provide many benefits. I use mine most days for my strength training!
Resistance bands help to build strength and flexibility. They are also fairly cheap, portable and make it easy to perform exercises at home. They are also great if you have scoliosis, back issues or injuries, as they help to build strength without using heavy weights.
The resistance bands I use are these but there are many similar available on Amazon. You can choose bands with Light, Medium, or Heavy resistance. I would recommended to start with Light and work your way up if you haven’t used them before. The pack I bought has all 3 so I can switch between them.
My Top 10 Glute Exercises for Runners
Below are my top 10 glute exercises for runners. I would recommend mixing and matching these to create your own routine. There are also lots of videos on YouTube you can follow focusing specifically on glute exercises. I would usually do 3 sets of 10-15 of each exercise and spend around 20-30 minutes per session. Each exercise can also be varied, which I explain a bit about below.
**Please note, I am not a fitness trainer so please seek your own advise before following any of these exercises. **
1. Glute Bridges
Lie flat on your back, place your hands by your sides and bend your knees, ensuring your feet are shoulder width apart. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips off the floor, ensuring you keep your back straight. Hold for a few seconds and then lower to the floor.
A variation of this exercise is to place a resistance band just above your knees. As you lift your hips, ensure you are pushing your knees out as far as you can.
For extra burn, when you raise your hips off the floor, hold for 30 seconds or so!
Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable, or try 3 sets of 10-15 reps.
2. Glute Abductions
This is my favourite glute exercise. It’s so simple and yet it burns so much! When I do this exercise, I can really feel it the next day. There are many variations but my favourite version is as follows. Wrap a resistance bad just above your knees and lie flat on your back on an exercise mat with your knees bent and hip width apart. Place your hands by your side. Slowly open your legs as far as you can and then close them back to starting position. Do this for around 10-15 times, 3-4 reps.
To deepen the burn you could also try pulses, where you open your legs and then make small pulsing movements with your legs for as long as you can stand (for me, usually around 30-60 seconds). Also, try it with your feet together for another variation.
3. Crab Walks
Place a resistance band around your legs so it’s just above your knees. Ensure your legs are shoulder width apart and lower into a squat position. Walk to the left for 10-12 steps and then change direction and walk to the right. You can repeat for as long as you like but I usually do 3 sets like this. You can vary this exercise by putting the resistance band round your ankles but this is much harder! You can of course, do this movement without a resistance band as well.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width apart and place the resistance band above your knees if you are using one. Slowly, push back into a squat (as low as you can without pain) whilst bending your knees. Try and keep your knees pointing outwards the entire time. I would do around 10-15 reps of these, and around 3 sets. You can vary these by trying squat pulses or holding a squat for 30 seconds or so.
5. 45 Degree Backward Steps
Start in a similar position to the squat – with feet slightly wider than hip width and knees slightly bent. Place the resistance band above your knees. Then slowly, step backwards with one leg at at 45 degree angle. Hold for a couple of seconds and then step back to the starting position. These can be done as many times as you feel comfortable, around 10-20 times. Remember to repeat on the other leg!
6. Side Leg Raises
For this exercise, lie on your side on a mat, with a resistance band wrapped just above your knees. Ensure your legs are straight and feet are stacked on top of each other. Support your head with your bottom arm. Slowly, lift your top leg up as high as you can, keeping your hips stacked. Be careful not to roll forwards. Hold and then slowly bring your leg back down. This exercise can also be done with the resistance band wrapped around your ankles, but this is harder! Try and do as many reps as you can and then repeat on the other leg.
7. Side Clam Raises
Stay on your side for this exercise, with the resistance band around your knees. This time, bend your knees and ensure your feet are in line with your hips so you are in a “clam” position. Support your head with your bottom arm. Keeping your heels together, slowly raise the top knee up as far as you can. Hold for a second and then slowly lower back down. Repeat for as many times as you can and then switch legs to repeat on the other side. This exercise can also be done with the feet together for a variation.
8. Donkey Kicks
For the donkey kick exercise, begin on all fours with (or without) the resistance band wrapped just above your knees. Ensure your hands are stacked under your elbows and your knees are stacked under your hips. Keep your back straight and core pulled in. Bring one of your legs off the ground, keeping it bent at a 90 degree angle. Ensure your foot is flexed, with the bottom of your foot pointing towards the ceiling. Bring your leg up so that it is at 90 degrees and parallel with with your left hip. Push your foot up towards the ceiling slightly and hold. Slowly bring your leg back down. Do 10-20 reps and then switch to the other side.
9. Single Leg Squats
This is a move I struggle with but it has been recommended to me by a physio to help with my injury. To perform this exercise, stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent. Extend your opposite leg out in front of you. Slowly, lower down into a squat position, keeping the knee of the supporting leg pointing outwards. Repeat 10 times on each leg and do 3 sets if you can.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a video of me doing this move yet as I’m still working on being able to do it without falling over!
10. Fire Hydrants
For this move begin on all fours with the resistance band wrapped around your legs, just above your knees. Ensure your hands are stacked under your elbows and your knees are stacked under your hips. Keep your back straight and core pulled in. Slowly, lift one of your legs out to the side, keeping your knees at 90 degrees. Hold and then slowly bring your leg back down to starting position. Repeat as many times as you can and then lower back to starting position. Switch to your other leg and repeat.
Remember – Always consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before starting any new exercise programme to avoid injury and to make sure you are doing exercises correctly.