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The Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists

The Importance of Strong & Active Glutes

The gluteal muscle group (buttock muscles) consists of the gluteus maximus, (the largest and strongest muscle in the body), gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and the tensor fasciae latae muscles.
They are located at the posterior aspect of the pelvis and function in stabilizing the upper body and pelvis, and aid in locomotion. The gluteal muscles facilitate hip extension, abduction, and internal and external rotation. In other words, they help you to bend over, lift your legs, push against the ground and so on.

Weak and poorly functioning gluteal muscles have been associated with a variety of lower limb injuries. The reason for this is that if the gluteal muscles are not working effectively, then it causes other muscles to overcompensate and therefore become overloaded. For example, inactive glutes effectively force the effort of a squat, lunge, or any similar movement to your knees, hamstrings and back causing overload to those areas. See below for a list of some lower limb issues that can stem from weak and inactive glutes.

  •  Patellofemoral pain syndrome
  •  Gluteal tendinopathy
  •  Iliotibial band syndrome
  •  Trochanteric bursitis
  •  Referred pain
  •  Low back pain
Research has shown that a combination of gluteal strengthening and core strengthening results in a greater decrease in low back pain compared to just core strengthening alone.Activating Your Glutes:
In order to have strong glutes, you must be able to effectively activate them before exercising them. Those who spend a lot of time seated with their hips in flexion aren’t using their glutes enough and therefore their glutes become inactive. As a result, when it comes to exercising your glutes, they likely won’t fire properly unless they have been activated prior.

When you learn to start activating muscles that have been ignored in the past, you gain the benefits of better performance, better muscle engagement, and decreased injury risk.
Bodyweight exercises are often sufficient to engage these muscles initially so it is not important to add load to the initial process. In addition, the amount of activation you need is based on how effectively you can maintain your exercise form in workouts, and whether or not you are seeing improvements. Therefore regular check-ins with a therapist are important in the early stages.

If you feel the above relates to you, or if you resonate with any of the above conditions, please do not hesitate to contact us and book a consultation today. A thorough assessment will take place and appropriate glute activation education and exercises will be advised where necessary.

By Róisín Leen,
Athletic Therapist

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