In my opinion, the glutes are the most undervalued muscle group in the whole body. They are comprised of three muscles, the glute maximus, glute medius, and glute minimus. Each of these muscles plays an incredibly important role in many movements that we experience each and every day. However, many of us lack the proper coordination and strength in these muscles to perform daily actives efficiently. The most common postural imbalance seen today, again in my opinion, is called Lower Cross Syndrome. The basic understanding is we, as Americans, sit for prolonged periods of time and this causes our hip flexors to become shortened. Our brains then thinks that we’re trying to contract our hip flexors which causes inhibition of our glute max. Overtime our brain will learn that this is a correct pattern and this will cause our glute max not to fire properly leading to several imbalances in our hip since it is the prime mover in hip extension. So, when we walk, we need hip extension to help propel our bodies forward. If our glute max is inhibited, our lumbar spine will try and make up for the lack of hip extension and can lead to back pain or herniated discs.
Our glute medius and minimus are powerful stabilizers of our pelvis. They help keep our pelvis balanced when walking and aid in hip abduction and internal rotation. These muscles generally are not targeted enough in exercise routines unless an athlete starts complaining of hip or back pain. These muscles are incredibly important for anyone performing Olympic lifts. Limited mobility in these muscles can lead to knee and back pain.
We often take our glute muscles for granted and most of my patients with hip or back pain has limited hip mobility that can be traced to the glute muscles. It’s important to strengthen these muscles before we age to prevent degeneration in our lower back and hip joint which is why I perform selective functional movement assessments on my patients to properly identify the areas that aren’t functioning properly and rehabilitating those muscle groups to start doing their jobs again. Improving the functionality of the glute muscles can prevent knee, hip, and lumbar spine injuries in the future!
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