Understanding Glute Injury
Hip stability, pelvic alignment, and general lower body strength are all significantly influenced by the gluteal muscles, which include the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Injuries can happen when these muscles are overworked, misused during exercise, or suddenly traumatically affected.
Aesthetics aside, a set of strong glutes is, pardon the pun, literally an asset. The glutes are not the largest and most powerful group of muscles in the body for nothing. This muscle group plays a vital role in the optimal functioning of the human body, allowing us to stand upright, perform enhanced athletic explosiveness, and accomplish tasks for day-to-day living.
In the gym, strong glutes can boost your performance in such movements that involve hip extension like deadlifting, squatting, jumping, and running. They can also ward off injury in your knees and lower back. If you’ve got overactive quads, knee pain, or tight ITBs (iliotibial band), these are most likely the result of having lazy or inactive glutes.
Why Is Glute Injury a Pain in the Butt?
- Central Role in Movement: The glutes are central to various movements, including walking, running, and even sitting. Any disruption in their function can result in discomfort, affecting daily activities.
- Radiating Pain: The interconnected network of nerves in the gluteal region can lead to radiating pain down the leg, causing additional discomfort and limiting mobility.
- Impact on Posture: Gluteal muscles contribute significantly to maintaining proper posture. An injury can compromise this, leading to a chain reaction of discomfort in the lower back and legs.
Get to Know the Parts of the Glutes and their functions
The glute muscles are comprised of three separate muscles:
- Gluteus Maximus: the largest of the three, it’s the muscle that gives the glutes its overall shape
- Gluteus Medius: located beneath the Gluteus Maximus, it plays a vital role in hip stabilisation and movement
- Gluteus Minimus: found beneath the Gluteus Medius, this muscle also plays an important role in lower body movement and stability
Collectively, the glutes perform the following functions:
- Hip extension: for straightening and extending the hip joint such as standing up from a seated position, running, jumping, or climbing the stairs
- Hip abduction: for lifting the leg sideways, away from the midline of the body
- External rotation: for turning or rotating the thigh outward
In addition to these, the three muscles that comprise the glutes all play an important role in stabilising the sacroiliac joints which connect the spine to the lower body.
Why should you be concerned with strengthening your glutes?
It’s no secret that most people, especially desk-bound office workers, spend most of the day seated on their butts. Sitting all day is not just indicative of a sedentary lifestyle, sitting too much can be hazardous to your mental and physical health. The glutes may be the largest muscle group in our bodies, but these can switch off when not activated. There’s a good reason why it’s popularly called the ‘sleepy butt syndrome,’ and while it sounds funny, it feels anything but.
The result: you can’t lift as much in the gym or when picking up those large grocery bags. Running can become a struggle. Your lower back may feel constantly sore, and your hips and knees may hurt during physical activities that you used to enjoy because your glutes are not activating while doing these movements.
The Advantages of Strong Glutes
At times, it’s easier to take notice of muscles you can readily see upfront such as the core, which is why these get most of the attention. But you can’t put your glutes out of mind as this muscle group is vital for the ff. reasons:
- Improved posture: a stronger set of glutes means the pelvis can be more stabilising and provide better support to your spine
- Lower risk of injuries: weak glutes can lead to the misalignment of your back. This can increase the load on your hamstrings and quads, which may cause tears and sprains.
- Better performance: the glutes are such powerful muscles that these can help generate a lot of power, no ifs or butts about it. If you’ve got a strong set of glutes, you may be able to accelerate faster and run quicker during running, and you can generate more power whether you’re lifting a big bag of gardening supplies or heaving a loaded barbell.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to strengthen your glutes – anywhere from 10-15 minutes may help you develop a stronger butt, improve your lifts, and make you a more efficient runner.
What are some of the most effective glute activation exercises after Glute Injury?
If you want to avoid lower back pain. enhance your performance in your favorite sport, or make good gains in your workouts, it’s time to get your butt off the couch and do glute activation exercises. We go beyond the usual prescription of bodyweight squats and do these four widely used glute activation exercises:
- Banded crab walks: Put the resistance band around your legs just above your knees. Stand at shoulder-width stance, feeling the tension in the band. Place the toes turned out slightly, your knees going over the toes and falling inwards. Sink into a half squat, chest pulled up, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Make a small step to the side, concentrating on maintaining your knee position, and activating your gluteus medius to control the movement of your other foot stepping in.
- Banded clam shells: Put the resistance band around your legs just above your knees. Lie down on your side, your knees bent toward your chest, your heels aligned with your hips in line with your shoulders. Squeeze your heels together, raise your top knee to the point where you feel your hips are tilting backward, controlling the movement, and go back to the starting position. Keep your core engaged to eliminate any rocking movement through your hips.
- Banded bridges: Put the resistance band around your legs just above your knees. Lie down on your back, feet shoulder-width apart and your knees bent. You should be able to reach out and touch your heels using your fingertips when you reach down by your side with your arms. Keep the weight in the heels of your feet, squeeze your gluteus maximus, then lift your hips off the mat until you reach a height that’s comfortable for your lower back. Keep your focus on making your glutes do the work, squeezing them on the way up, and slowly releasing them on the way down.
- Banded bird dogs: Put the resistance band around your legs just above your knees. Begin the exercise on your hands on knees. Reach your left arm out in front while kicking the right leg behind you. Squeeze your glutes as you kick the right leg backward, keeping the leg straight and your foot flexed. Engage your core and don’t rock off the hips. Hold at the top of the movement, then bring your left arm and right leg to the starting position. Do the same with your right arm and left leg.
Notice: The information provided here is general in nature. This presentation is intended for demonstrating correct exercise techniques and is not meant for self-diagnosis or self-management of your particular medical condition. If you experience persistent discomfort or challenges when doing an exercise, it is prudent to consult a qualified Exercise Physiologist for guidance. Feel free to reach out to our experienced Allied Health Professionals at 1300 090 931.
Exercise with our team of experts and avoid Glute Injury
Unsure of where and how to start with activating your glutes and avoiding injuries? Feel free to contact our Allied Health Team at Healthstin Clinic in Melton by calling 1300 090 931 today. Our Exercise Physiologists and Physiotherapists are ready to assess your glute strength, design a program to strengthen not just your glutes but your whole body, teach you proper exercise techniques, and monitor your progress.