Why do you need strong 'glutes'?
When new people join a class or come to me with back pain they are usually completely unaware of their glute muscles. The glutes are quite likely to be weak and tight, which sounds like an odd combination.
Strengthening the muscle and stretching it so it can function correctly is an essential part of keeping your body working effectively and without pain.
- Keeping correct alignment
Strong glutes can protect you from injury and reduce the impact of arthritic pain by providing support to the spine and pelvis. They also give correct alignment throughout the body helping to protect the knees from uneven wear, keep the feet lined up reducing problems with the achilles and plantar fascia.
- Support when walking or running or weight training
The glute muscles stabilise your pelvis while you run or walk. They help with hip extension and forward propulsion. If they fail to engage correctly the work falls to the hip flexors which are less able and become tight quickly. This puts stress onto the lumbar spine giving back pain. Strong glutes help give correct positioning when weight training, especially during squats, so your knees are protected. They also help with protecting your back when bending to pick up items from the floor or gardening.
- Injury prevention
If your glutes are not strong, your entire lower body alignment may become out of balance causing injuries such as achilles tendinitis, shin splints, knee pain and leading to tight ITB which runners are particularly susceptible to. When the glutes are not strong enough to do their job, other muscles not as well designed for the job take over. While in everyday life it is usually the back which suffers, in those who train at a higher level the muscle imbalance is more pronounced leading to increased risk of injury.
The glutes are one of the largest muscle groups in the body. If trained it can produce an enormous amount of power. By strengthening this muscle you will be able to move with less stress on your skeletal structure. This is of enormous benefit as bones become less strong with age and affected by degenerative conditions.
So, to keep active and move with ease - get your glutes working!
- Reduction in back pain
To simplify the effect strong glutes have on back pain visualise your spine. It runs from the back of your head to your pelvis (hip bones). Your pelvis sits like a t junction at the bottom of your spine. Below this are your glutes, providing support to everything above it – hips and spine. Once you move they are powering from behind you enabling you to move easily with less effort. The other muscle groups, abdominals, quads and hip flexors are at the front of your body and while they are essential for movement and stability they are not nearly so well placed to provide power as the glutes.