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Under active or overpowered glutes

The Glutes (Glute medius, minimus and maximus) are regarded as one of the strongest muscle groups in the human body - But do yours activate?

A common problem that I see in the clinic is pain or injury caused by an under active or over powered glute. This pain can be displayed by lower back pain, SI joint inflammation or sciatic based symptoms and can also vary from a dull ache or a sharp shooting pain down the leg.

The function of the glute group is to abduct, extend and externally rotate the hip, they are also a key muscle group in everyday activities including the heel to toe movement of walking. So when this muscle group is over powered (think compensation) by surrounding muscles, or they simply will not switch on, this means the body will find other ways of achieving the desired movement, like for example, using other muscle groups.

You may wonder why they wouldn’t switch on in the first place, surely every muscle just does what they are supposed to? Well there are many reasons for this but a common issue is put simply down to lifestyle. Say for example we sit at a desk for 6-12 hours a day but we also sit down to eat our lunch, but then we also sit down to get home from work, and before we know it we are either asleep or sitting in front of the TV. This is most people regardless of the energy bursts of activity between the daily routine, we do not give our glutes a fighting chance of working properly because a lot of the time we are in hip flexion. If our hip flexors become tight we then have a whole separate issue of not being able to get our hips in enough extension to engage our glutes.

When preventing or even moving forwards from an issue like this it is important that we start with loosening the ‘tight and over active’ muscles, and working on some simple isolation engagement exercises for the glutes. This will wake up the connection between your brain and your glutes for everyday life activities, or for a gym program if you struggle to engage your glutes.

Some great exercises are reverse hyperextensions, donkey kickbacks, thrusters and bridges but I will be posting another blog in a few weeks of great Glute exercises with progressions and regressions to help anyone looking to make their glutes stronger.

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