Your gluteal muscles are one of your most important muscle groups for your body. They are needed for a heck of a lot of movement and as such, are usually the biggest culprit for common issues such as low back, hip and knee pain.
There are 3 aspects of your gluteal muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. Together these muscles play an integrated role to provide stability and mobility to the hips in relation to the rest of your body.
Here are some of the highlights of what your glutes should be doing for you:
- rotating your hips outward or inward
- extending your hips
- keeping your pelvis level while you walk or run
- keeping your torso upright while you sit (it attaches to your thoracolumbar fascia which runs along your mid to low back)
Could you have glute amnesia?
Do you sit at a desk for work? Do you experience low back, hip or knee pain, and/or frequently feel tightness in your hamstrings? You may be experiencing what we call “GLUTE AMNESIA”. When you are sitting down, your gluteal muscles will shut off and after a prolonged amount of time, day in and day out, this leads to “glut amnesia”.
Simply put- if you don’t use it, you lose it.
When your gluteal muscles aren’t firing properly, the hamstrings will have to pick up the slack to get those hips and legs moving. This can lead to great strain on your muscle and joints, and while you can keep stretching/foam rolling/getting a tennis ball into those muscles, you will be beating a dead horse.
The mirror test:
An easy exercise to test if your glutes aren’t firing properly is to stand in front of a mirror and practice a few overhead squats (raise your arms above or place your hands on your head while you squat down). Look in the mirror to see if your knees fall inward as you move down or up in the squat. Ideally, you want your knees to track between your second and third toes.
Figure 1. Knees are caved in
Figure 2. Knees are properly aligned over the 2nd – 3rd toes
Stay tuned for the follow-up blog on exercises to help fire up those glutes!
Dr. Nicole Barry completed her Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology with Honours at Western University in London, Ontario. She then continued on to Toronto to successfully obtain her Doctor of Chiropractic at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.