Five weeks of gluteal-complex training improved plyometric performance and maintained lower extremity alignment in recreational runners: a pilot study

  • Karen E. Welman
  • Ian G. Rainsford
  • Tarryn L. Horner
  • Marlene Lategan
  • Zilké Taylor

Abstract

Overuse injuries in runners have been associated with poor biomechanics due to weak and/or inhibited gluteal musculature. Plyometric ability is largely responsible for runners’ propulsion which affects running efficiency and injury incidence. Research has shown that plyometric and strength training improve athletic performance and reduce injury risk. However, limited research has investigated the influence of specific gluteal training on plyometric performance along with its effects on lower extremity alignment. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a 5-week gluteal training programme on plyometric performance and lower limb alignment in recreational runners. Seventeen male runners were randomly assigned to either an experimental (EXP; n = 11) or control
(CON; n = 6) group. Over 5 weeks the EXP group performed gluteal specific training, while the CON group performed upper body strengthening. Both groups trained three times per week while continuing with their regular running regimen. Before and after the 5 weeks, countermovement (CMJ) and standing long jump (SLJ) performance were assessed using the Optojump Next®; lower limb biomechanical alignment was analysed on Kinovea®. Results showed that SLJ distance (p = 0.04) and CMJ peak power (p = 0.05) improved by 4% and 5% in the EXP group respectively. Trunk flexion (p =0.01) and knee flexion (p = 0.05) decreased respectively by 24% and~22% in the CON group. Results suggest that regardless of regular running, the gluteal-complex functioning diminishes if not maintained by targeted exercises. In conclusion, a 5-week gluteal strength training programme may enhance plyometric performance and maintain biomechanical alignment in recreational runners.

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