This is Taylor, a collegiate runner. She has had back pain off and on for several months. Her Athletic Trainer has told her that she has ‘dumb butt’ syndrome. I’m not particularly a fan of the term, but it’s understandable what he was referring to. I asked her what his basis was for that statement and she mentioned lying prone on the table and raising her legs. This isn’t a bad test, but we need to know what this looks like with running and what we can do about it. Here’s video of her running initially from the side and behind.
From the side, notice the poor knee drive and landing with her knees relatively extended and moderate overstride. With landing like this, the ground reaction forces will be accentuated and not properly absorbed throughout the calves, quads, and more importantly the glutes.
From this angle you can see how her hips have to travel side to side with each stride, this indicates that it’s requiring extra effort for the glutes to tolerate each landing well. The fallout of this is how much her spine is having to rotate to accommodate for this. Any wonder where the back pain is coming from?
So here are some drills we did to get the hips working properly. Full disclosure, we also did some manual therapy for hip flexibility that isn’t shown, but complemented the movements done here.
First, hip flexor flexibility in all three planes of motion.
Next, glute activation/loading in all planes.
Lastly, a simple form drill on the treadmill to practice knee drive.
After all this, here is what she looks like from the side and behind.
Notice the improved knee drive from the side which allows for happier landing and loading through the hips. From behind you can see that she has less side to side motion in her hips and low back. In the videos she’s certainly working hard to focus on the drills we worked on. As with anything, it will become more natural as she consistently works on these things. Great job Taylor!