Researchers have described 2 theories concerning the etiology of EAMC: (1) muscle fatigue and (2) electrolyte deficit. As such, interventions for EAMC typically consist of stretching/strengthening of the involved muscle and/or supplements to restore electrolyte imbalances.Â The purpose of this study was to highlight the effects of an intervention program consisting of strengthening and neuromuscular reeducation of the gluteus maximus in an elite triathlete with exercise-associated muscle cramping (EAMC). The patient was a 42-year-old male triathlete with a primary complaint of recurrent cramping of his right hamstring muscle, which prevented him from completing races at his desired pace. Strength testing revealed gluteus maximus muscle weakness bilaterally. Electromyographic (EMG) analysis revealed that the right hamstrings were being activated excessively during terminal swing and the first half of the stance phase.Â Following the intervention, the patient was able to complete 3 triathlons without hamstring cramping. Strength testing revealed that the right hip extension strength improved from 35.6 to 54.7 kg, and activation of the hamstrings during terminal swing and the first half of the stance phase decreased to 36.4% of MVIC.
A program of gluteus maximus strengthening and neuromuscular training eliminated EAMC of the hamstrings in this patient. Given that the hamstrings and gluteus maximus work as agonists to decelerate the thigh during terminal swing phase and control hip flexion during loading response of running, we postulate that strengthening of the gluteus maximus decreased the relative effort required by the hamstrings, thus reducing EAMC.
Tracey Wagner, Nazly Behnia, Won-Kay Lau Ancheta, Richard Shen, Shawn Farrokhi, Christopher M. Powers. Strengthening and Neuromuscular Reeducation of the Gluteus Maximus in a Triathlete With Exercise-Associated Cramping of the Hamstrings. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2010;40(2):112-119