1284The Famous Five

The Famous Five

We all know we need strong quads, hamstrings and mid-section to stay strong and run injury-free, but there are other, deeper muscles important to keeping you on the road. Meet the not so famous five.  

1. The Multifidus

 

 the-multifidusWhere is it?

Tiny little muscles that sit between each vertebra in the spine.

What does it do?

Controls the spine by stabilising each joint and helps the joint work more effectively and reduces degeneration of the spine.

What happens when it’s weak?

Everyone loves core exercises these days, but very few strengthen the multifidus before working the larger muscles of the core.  These are the TRUE core muscles and if weak will give you poor posture, lack of ability to train or develop core strength, and cause low back pain.

Strengthen it  

The finger crusher: In the normal floor sit-up position with bent legs and feet on the floor. Slide both hands (palms down) under the small of your back. Now imagine you are desperate for the toilet, hold your pelvic floor tight and pull in your belly button. You should be crushing your fingers with your lower back. Hold this position for 10 seconds at a time.  Once you can do this with equal pressure on each hand, try SLOWLY lifting each foot off the floor in turn, trying to keep the pressure on each hand the same throughout. Do this daily, 10 reps for each foot X 3.    

2. Glute medius and Glute minimus

 

 glutesWhere is it?

These two muscles lie underneath and to the side of the glute max, that big muscle you call your bum.

What does it do?

Technically speaking, lifts the leg out to the side and rotates the leg outwards when the leg is straight, but inwards when flexed.  These two muscles work tirelessly to hold your pelvis straight in standing and walking posture

What happens when it’s weak?

You walk like a catwalk model, the hips dropping on each side as the loss of pelvic control occurs each stride.  

Strengthen them

There are two really good exercises, the single-leg squat to functionally control the pelvis.  Find a mirror and slowly perform single leg squats whilst placing your fingers on the front of your pelvis (the boney bits at the front of your hip) to make sure one side isn’t dropping.  Do this 10 reps at a time over 4 sets on each leg.  You can do this as much as twice a day. The less functional method is straightforward abduction in side lying. Lift your leg straight up to the side and at the same time slightly rotate your foot outward.  You can do 20 - 30 reps of this X 3.  

3. Tensor fasciae latae or TFL

 

 TFLWhere is it?

At the front/side of the hip  

What does it do?

Along with Glute Max it helps to keep the knee straight through using the ITB (illiotibial band) as a sort of guy rope to the femur.  

What happens when it’s weak?

Pain in the lower back, hip and knees.  

Strengthen it

This isn’t one to strengthen as much as stretch.  By abducting the leg behind the good leg, (think line dancing) and then leaning towards its new position (think ballet) you will feel a stretch on the side and to the front of the hip.  Hold this for 30 -60 seconds x 3 daily and especially after a run.  

4. Popliteus

 

 popliteusWhere is it?

At the back of the knee, going from just above the outside (medial) joint, to just below the inside (Medial) knee joint.

What does it do?

Its sole purpose is to help unlock the knee as you start to bend your leg from being totally straight.  Many people wont realise that the knee actually twists slightly into place when it straightens, so when the knee first bends it needs to unwind first and the popliteus performs that job (laterally rotating the Femur on the tibia). The cruciate ligaments are slightly twisted around each other and also help with unlocking as they unravel themselves.

What happens when it’s weak?

Its not generally weak, but you know you have a problem when you have pain at the back of the knee and in many cases very tight hamstrings.... can you straighten your leg fully whilst sitting up???

Strenghten it

This is such a small muscle that you need to support it by stretching the hamstrings and then strengthening both the hams and quads.  Do this using the Swiss ball on both as shown.  20 reps x 3 on each will be a great start.  

5. SOLEUS

 

 soleusWhere is it?

It runs down the back of the leg and then attaches in three places under your foot arch.  

What does it do?

It holds up the arch of the foot and assists in the foot and ankle movement when running.  

What happens when it’s weak?

You have flat feet, maybe shin splints and possibly plantar fasciitis.  

Strengthen it

Slow externally rotating heel raises: Do these 10 reps at a time, very slowly.  Repeat 3 times and as it’s a small muscle do these every other day to allow for recovery.


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