My MRI shows some damage, do I need surgery?

I have mentioned in previous posts that MRI findings are not all that they are cracked up to be with  aches and pains. You have people who have the same findings on MRI one with a lot of pain, one with no pain.  The one who has a lot of pain can figure out how to move differently and their pain goes away, but the MRI finding will likely be the same (at least in the short term).  My biggest problem is that the medical field perpetuates this behavior by electing surgery on these findings that may or may not be creating pain.

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Exercise Is Good, So More Is Better, Right?

I care a lot about my running community, I understand the freedom and clarity that comes with a quiet trail run through the woods, as Christopher McDougal stated in his book I know we were born to run, but I try to stay as objective as possible when I look at life and human behavior. 

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Glute activation in runners

There are a number of aches and pains that can happen when your glutes (the biggest and most powerful muscle in lower body) do not work how they are supposed to.  It is common to develop low back pain, knee pain, hamstring or calf pain when this muscle is not working correctly. 

What do the glutes do? The muscle is oriented in a way that pulls your leg backward through space, rotates your thigh outward and pulls your leg out to the side (extension, external rotation, and abduction respectively). The glute also controls pelvic position with the ability to shift it forward, do a tail tuck, or rotate it.  This can be a 45 minute discussion easily with all the details, I think it is very useful, but easy to get lost in trying to understand the functions…

More importantly- Why do mine not work?!?!?

Muscle activation is simply a matter of position and leverage, when taking people through exercises i can tell when their glute is working and when not based on the angles of their body. So if you run with an excess pelvic tilt, not enough hip extension, or your foot is landing in the wrong place you may not get full glute function.

Most Importantly- How do I make sure my glutes are contributing to my stride.

Again, this is tricky. in general improving your gait cycle will be key.  keeping your abdomen in and back flat may help, make sure you are pushing down into the ground with your foot instead of pulling yourself forward may also help. A very basic drill to help figure this out is A-skips (click here). As someone who has pretty good control of their body I will let you know that just running differently is not enough.  You have to condition your body to react differently to make the biggest changes.  Click Here is a video of a basic position that you can use to make sure you are training your glutes to work right. Here is a video of my mentor and biomechanics instructor talking about some similar details.  If you have met me or heard me speak you know that I am a nut for Functional Patterns to learn more from them Youtube functional patterns or check out I do believe it is the best system on the planet for rehabbing gait cycles. Please feel free to leave a comment or reach out with questions or more topics that you might want some information on.