Do you or someone you know suffer from low back pain, IT band syndrome, hip pains or aches? Are you athlete who wants explosiveness, or a senior who wants to be able to rise, balance, and walk comfortably? If so, this short blog from Jimmy the Trainer will be the most important thing you read today!
Unfortunately the glutes are under performing in most every case of low back pain I see in our clinic. Studies show that people with low back pain have less ability to fire their glutes on command. Jimmy, your local trainer and fitness expert, breaks it down and gives some great tips for improving one of the most important muscle groups in the body. For more from Jimmy the Trainer go to www.JimmyTheTrainer.com!
From daily intuitive movements to intentional exercise patterns, the glute muscles and the activation of these muscles is truly a powerhouse for the human body – a powerhouse most people don’t recognize or maximize. The dichotomy of glute activation is this: most movements rely on the glutes but few movements address the improvement of glute activation. Glute activation refers to the contraction of an important group of posterior muscles. Like all functions of the human body, glute activation relies on a plethora of muscle regions and movement patterns. To unlock the “glutes”, one must first identify the keys.
The gluteal muscles, more commonly referred to as the “glutes”, are critical factors in most areas of physical performance. The glutes host a trio of important muscles; gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. While the glutes are often overlooked as a primary muscle group, they are essential to a variety of human functions. External rotation and extension of the hips are significant movement patterns for most people, movement patterns made possible by the glutes. In a variety of ways, the hip flexors make such movement and glute activation possible. The hip flexors are a collection of muscles that, as if their name did not sufficiently indicate, support the flexion of the hips. Perhaps the most important aspect of the hip flexors is a two-muscle region called the iliopsoas, a muscular combination of the psoas major and the iliacus. As the strongest hip flexor, the iliopsoas is massively important for standing, walking, and running. Furthermore, the reasonable flexibility of the hip flexors is important for glute activation – without optimal hip flexibility, the hips will not open at their full potential and the glutes will not be activated at their full potential.
As previously mentioned, a dichotomy exists in the process of glute activation. Most movements rely on the glutes – few movements engage the glutes. For example, daily actions like walking and standing up can engage the quadriceps and hamstrings; however, the average person’s glute activation during these actions is likely minimal. The important aspect of glute activation as it pertains to injury is the recovery (from injury). Research supports that the glutes are inhibited by almost every type of lower body trauma/injury – ankle sprains, pulled muscles, and even lower back pain. With that said, the intentional pursuit of glute activation becomes paramount for successful rehabilitation.
To begin this pursuit of glute activation and hip flexibility, the following exercises will be a great start; Glute Bridge, Figure-4 Glute Bridge, Bird Dog, Lying Abduction (Leg Lift), Quadruped Hip Circles, Reverse Hyperextension, and Back Extension. In addition to world-class chiropractic care, a great starting point for the beginner is a simple bridge complex like the one seen in this video: click here to view the Glute Bridge Complex.