The exercises you may rely on to work your glutes—squats, deadlifts, lunges—target the big, meaty part of your buttocks known as gluteus maximus. But that regimen neglects the gluteus medius, the smaller muscle that runs along the side of your rear and keeps your pelvis steady when you run. A weak or inactive medius can cause instability down your leg. To prevent that, do this activation-and-strength routine from Erika Mundinger, a Minneapolis physical therapist, once or twice a week before an easy run.
Hip Hike on Step
Stand with your right leg on a step. Lower your left foot down so that your right hip drops and pushes out to the side. Drive up by pushing through your right hip until your left foot is above the step. Perform three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
With a resistance band around your legs just above your knees, lie on your back. Push your knees outward and lift your hips up. Lower back down, maintaining outward tension on the band. Perform three sets of 10 to 20 reps.
Standing on your right leg, sit back into your hips as far as possible while maintaining balance. Keep your right knee in line with your toes. Drive back up to standing and continue for 10 reps. Repeat on the opposite leg. Perform three sets.
Wall Hip Abduction
Lie on your side with your back against a wall. Flex your top foot and lift your leg as high as you can while keeping your heel against the wall. This is best done in socks or with a towel under your foot so it glides. Do three sets of 10 reps on each side.
Reverse Crossover Lunge
Stand on a smooth surface with a small towel under your left foot. Keeping your weight on your right leg, slide your left foot behind and around your right leg until you end in a lunge. Push through your right hip to return to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 reps on each side.
Stand in front of a step. Step back to place your left foot on the step. Sit back into your hips so your left foot is flat on the step and your right heel touches the ground. Press into your left foot to stand up. Step forward off the step. Repeat 10 to 20 times and then switch legs. Perform three sets.
With a resistance band around your legs, stand with legs hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and step one foot to the side. Follow with the opposite foot so your legs are again hip-width apart. Continue for 10 to 20 reps, then repeat in the opposite direction. Perform three sets.