In a lot of the blogs we have talked about the importance of your glutes and hips being strong to support our bodies mechanics when we run. For a lot of us, these muscles are naturally weak but additionally when we try to strengthen them or use them during a run they may not be ready to work and switch on. This means the brain isn’t connecting with the muscle to enable it to work efficiently. Pre-activation exercises are useful to improve this connection before strengthening exercises and also before a run.
Improving the way that our brain communicates to the muscles is termed neuromuscular activation. In the physio world we like to think of our brain as a muscle that needs to be exercised and strengthened to support the connection to the muscular system. There are a lot of ways our nervous system can be negatively influenced to reduce the effectiveness of neuromuscular activation. The most common example we see is with sitting for prolonged periods of time. This disengages the need for our glute muscles to work, weakening the neuromuscular connection and when we stand up, in most people it doesn’t automatically switch back on unless the connection has been trained/strengthened.
Exercises such as the hip bridge, crab walking, single leg get ups and side-kicks with a band are all examples of exercises that can be used to target the key hip muscles involved in our running mechanics. Performing these exercises before a run can aid the neuromuscular strength to improve your bodies ability to engage in glute muscle activation during a running stride.