Contributor: David Authement
Your butt. Your derriere. Your po-po. Your tokhes. However you choose to refer to this area, we’re talking about your glutes. While often a source of worry for vanity’s sake, this isn’t just about looking good. The glutes are one of the most important muscle groups of the entire body! In terms of their cross-sectional area, the glutes are the largest muscle group in the body–and for good reason. They help propel us as we walk and also keep us standing upright. More specifically, the glutes dynamically stabilize our hips, knees, and back, which has a huge effect on the entire lumbo-pelvic-hip complex.
In our sedentary society, we tend to develop what is referred to as “gluteal amnesia.” This is basically just a lack of neural drive to the glutes, which inhibits them from fully turning on and doing their job to support and move you. When this happens, the glutes aren’t being fired appropriately and other muscles have to pick up the slack, setting you up for an eventual injury or chronic pain.
- Do you have knee troubles?
There’s a good possibility that your knees aren’t getting the proper amount of stability that is provided via the fascial attachments through the back of the leg and the IT band.
- Do you have sacroiliac joint (SI joint) dysfunction?
Well, there’s a good chance that your glutes aren’t doing their job to stabilize the SI joint via their connections to the sacrum.
- Do you have low back pain?
The glutes help provide stability for the lower spine via their relationship with the thoracolumbar fascia.
Do you see where I’m going with all of this? The glutes do SO many things and are super important… If they’re not getting a good neural drive, they’re not being activated well. And if they’re not being activated well, it means you’re not using them to their fullest potential. When you see someone with no glutes (a flat behind or lack of gluteal definition), you need to know that this has NOTHING to do with genetics and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that your glutes have not been doing their job, evidenced by a visible lack of muscular development.
Time to get those glutes fired up! Let’s assess ourselves with a simple glute bridge (pelvic bridge). Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Have your legs approximately hip width apart or even a bit wider apart. The exact position doesn’t matter for now–focus on finding the position that makes it the easiest for you to fire your glutes. While maintaining a straight spine, press through your heels to elevate your pelvis so that the movement is occurring in your hips only. Once at the top, stay there and focus in on where you feel the work. Hopefully, it’s in your glutes!
If you have a difficult time finding your glutes in this exercise, you know that you have an issue with achieving a good neural activation of the glutes. A lot of people tend to mostly feel this in their hamstrings, even to the point of cramping. Due to the nature of the hamstrings’ shortened position with the knees bent, they are in a position of active insufficiency and their contractile force potential is very minimal. Intense hamstring activation in this exercise means that they are working overtime to compensate for your lack of glute strength. If you are mostly feeling hamstring work, you’ll want to spend some time focusing on finding your glute activation and training them to start doing their job. On the other hand, if your hamstring work is minimal and you can really feel your glutes then you’re doing great!
Now, please remember, this is a blog post and is not designed to be all inclusive in terms of the nitty gritty details of how these things work, etc. If you have questions about anything mentioned here and/or think that perhaps your glutes aren’t doing their job, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send an email and schedule an appointment so we can help you move and feel better!