Updated: Nov 11, 2020
Salute Your Glutes!
How often do you give thought to your gluteal (glute) muscles? Or, let me re-phrase, how often do you think about your butt? We might give it a little attention when trying on new pants, see an image of a Kardashian, or when we feel that someone or something “kicked it”. Otherwise I’m guessing we just sit on it and don’t give it the attention it deserves.
One of the things I talk about the most with virtually all my athletes is the importance of glute strength. I joke with them on how I talk about butts all day. But(t) why do we place an emphasis on gluteal strength? Our glutes are one of the most essential muscles in the body and even the slightest imbalance can alter our ability to move well, regardless of how active we are. I also believe that, as the owner and operator of your body, it is important to have a general understanding of how it moves, why it moves, and what moves it. This is especially important in the athletic population as a body that doesn’t move well won’t perform well.
Let’s start by reviewing where they are and what they do. The gluteal muscles are located on the back of the pelvis and extend to the side of the hip. They are comprised of three muscles: the gluteus maximus (the largest and strongest, primary hip extender), gluteus medius (responsible for hip abduction/moving the leg to the side and hip extension with external rotation), and the gluteus minimus (controls hip internal rotation). With their powers combined, the glutes help with our standing posture, balance, stabilizing the pelvis, and assist in stabilizing the knee and ankle. In sports, glutes provide power to athletic movements, especially those that are explosive or involve acceleration and jumping. Gluteus maximus
Cool butt facts, Sara, but what does that mean to me? As I previously mentioned, even the slightest imbalance of these muscles can disrupt movement patterns in ways that affect our ability to walk, run, balance, and lift. If the glutes are weak or not firing properly this can create tightening, counter-weakness, or compensation in other muscles, particularly the hamstrings, low back musculature, tensor fascia latae (TFL), hip flexors, iliotibial band (IT band), core muscles, and even the calves. These asymmetries are the culprits for much of the low back, hip, and knee pain we experience as well as the re-occurrence of injury after returning to activity.
Any of this sound familiar? Fear that your fanny isn’t firing right? Here are a few things you can do to check the resiliency of your rump: – Stand on one leg and hold your balance – Hip hinge – Squat or single leg squat – Bridge
If you have trouble holding your balance, keeping your back straight, notice your knees knock in, your hip drops to one side, or simply don’t feel your glutes engage it may be an indicator that your tush needs to be re-tuned. If you experience pain with these, or any other movement, it’s a good idea to be evaluated by a sports medicine professional (athletic trainer, injury prevention specialist, physical therapist, physician) so they can help you identify where the problem is coming from and recommend a stretching and strengthening program to correct any imbalances that are present.
I hope this post leaves you with a new appreciation for glutes and inspiration to get your butt in gear! Here’s to strong derrieres and moving well!