What we commonly refer to as our 'glutes' (or our butt) is actually the gluteal muscles, a group of 3 muscles that make up the buttocks. They are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. These are some of the most important (and least understood) muscles in the body. Whilst many people desire to have toned and shapely glutes for aesthetic reasons, they also serve a much greater purpose.
These muscles, as a group, are one of the strongest areas in the body and are instrumental in movements involving the hips and thighs. Standing up, sitting down and simply standing up straight are all functions of the glutes. Without the glutes, these activities would be extremely difficult if not impossible.
Many of us take our glutes for granted, but having weak glutes can cause more problems than people realise.
Not activating this area correctly during exercise can lead to muscle imbalances and eventually a chain reaction of health issues. Here are a few surprising health problems that may occur:
Poor posture -If a person has weak glutes it can cause the hips to tilt slightly forward. If not corrected, this anterior pelvic tilt can lead to a myriad of other lower body injuries.
Low back pain -This can be caused by incorrect lifting technique, as the glutes and lower back muscles work together to help stabilise the back when lifting objects.
Hip and knee issues - Weak glutes can increase the pressure on the many joints including hips, and knees. This knock-on effect is due to a higher amount of internal rotation on the femur (thigh bone).
Hamstring strains - If the hamstrings become dominant during hip extensions, it increases the risk of hamstring strains.
Other injuries- A study in the Journal of Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy found that the muscle imbalances caused by gluteal muscle weakness have been associated with several lower extremity injuries including patella femoral pain syndrome, iliotibial band friction syndrome, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprains, and chronic ankle instability.
Upper body issues- In addition to posture issues in the lower body, weak glutes can affect the upper body as well. Because the hips are tilted forward, the stabiliser muscles must work harder to keep the body straight. This can increase risk of headaches as well as pain in the shoulders and neck.
Diminished sports performance- Strong glutes muscles are essential for sports performance. Explosive movements used in exercises such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, football, and running all require a strong backside!
You may have weak glutes and not even know it! Try these two exercises to test your glute strength:
If your knees hit the chair, your glutes are not functioning correctly and need to be strengthened.
If your hips sway from side to side while lifting legs, this indicates weakness in the glutes, hip abductor and rotator muscles.
Many fitness routines don't activate our gluteal muscle correctly and this should be made a top priority. Here are the best exercises to strengthen your peach!
The glutes play an integral part in our overall health. Make an effort to exercise your glutes on a consistent basis. Your body will thank you.
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