Full disclosure – I didn’t make a ground-breaking medical discovery; I simply found a new muscle .I’d never heard of. Running along the prom last Tuesday, with my legs pepped up, I found myself springing forwards almost effortlessly. As the run progressed, I began to feel an ache in my buttocks in a place which had never ached before. There’s nothing untoward in this, muscles fatigue and this leads to aching. But late in the run, when I focused on readopting my early run form, the muscle ached more, my stride improved and the springing returned. I’d discovered a new muscle!
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me in recent weeks. When I began doing squat workouts in October with the goal of being able to do pistol squats, I found a weakness on the outside of my hip. I took a look at the medical dictionary i.e. Googled “buttock muscles” and concluded it was probably the Gluteus Medius or Gluteus Minimus being activated. While I already knew of the three Glute muscles (the other being the Gluteus Maximus) and the Piriformis, I failed to notice the Obturator Internus hereby referred to as the OI (or its companion the Obturator Externus, the OE). My self-diagnosis of where the ache was leads me to believe it was the OI I’d discovered but it might be the OE.
Reading up on the OI and OE muscles, it seems they’re used in hip extension and rotation. That explains why I began to feel an ache as my stride lengthened out. Over the past month I’ve been doing sprint drills twice per week for just ten minutes and these have been helping me to learn how not to (excessively) rotate my hips when running. Running along the prom I could actually feel my core holding the hips square as I pushed off with each step. The sprint drills have helped correct the motion and along with the strengthening effect of the squats the consequence is the OI/OE muscles starting to ache. On Wednesday’s drills and strides, I found myself powering along like I’ve rarely done before. I remember perhaps two occasions, in my whole lifetime, when I felt like a sprinter – running on air.