Why Glutes are so important?
Physiotherapists talk about the importance of the gluteal muscles all the time, there is a reason why they are so important. The glutes are the biggest muscle group in the body and they are the muscles that we use the most. However, in our modern lifestyle of sitting at the desk, driving and sitting on the sofa they become weak. When we are sitting our glutes are lengthened and inactive. Then at the front of the body the hip flexors tighten and pull the pelvis forward. The longer we sit the more the glutes become weaker and ineffective. Feeling stiff when you stand up after working at a screen is a sign that your glutes have clocked off. The knock on affect to the rest of the body is significant.
From the age of 35, we start to lose muscle tone in the whole body, but the glutes are particularly vulnerable to this decrease. Having weak glutes can affect the biomechanics of the body. If the glutes are weak or inactive, there will be strain through your back as the back muscles take over the job that the glutes are supposed to do. This is turn can cause back pain with overloading of the intervertebral discs resulting in degeneration.
The role of the glutes is to stabilise the pelvis and the hip. The gluteus maximus controls the movement of the hip and the gluteus medius controls the movement of your pelvis. Without the stability of these muscles there can be a mechanical overload of the pelvis which effects the rest of the body. If you think of the pelvis as a bowl of water, any shift from side to side causes the water to tip out of either the front back or side. That water tipping out is the load going through the discs in your lower back. So if your glutes aren’t stabilising the pelvis then the result can be niggling injuries that don’t seem to resolve with rest or over time.
How do you strengthen your glutes?
Strengthening your glutes will have the biggest impact when in comes to preventing or recovering from low back pain.
Exercise is key to strengthen the glutes and thinking about the body as a whole is essential. It is really easy to fit some glutes exercises into your working day with some squats and lunges. Squats and lunges done correctly are great exercises to strengthen the glutes. These exercises also have a cardio vascular component so with repetition cause you to get slightly out of breath . Further benefit can be made by adding a weight or resistance band in to the exercises which will also gives some resistance training.
The link below demonstrates some squats and lunges for you to try at home –
Pilates exercises can also be a great method, as these isolate the individual muscles and stop other muscles for example the hamstrings taking over the movement.
Click on the link below to find a group of exercises that will recruit the gluteal muscles.
It takes 6-8 weeks to change and build muscle however, changes in the level of low back pain can happen within a couple of weeks of starting regular glutes exercises as part of a rehabilitation programme. A few more months down the line and when you say “does my bum look bit in this?” hopefully the answer will be yes.