Switch on Those Glutes

Many clients who present with lower back pain or lower limb problems (including tendon problems, muscle strains and even ankle and knee joint spasms) may have been told to 'switch on their glutes' as part of their rehabilitation. But what are your ‘glutes’, and how best do we get them to turn on?

Glute Activation

A quick anatomy review is probably worthwhile here. The two major gluteal muscles that are important in everything we do that is involved in running, jumping, sprinting and any single leg tasks are the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius muscles.

Gluteus maximus is the primary muscle involved in hip extension to push off when we run, jump, get out of a chair or go up a step. It is the largest muscle in the body for a reason.

Gluteus medius acts mainly as a hip abductor (taking the leg out to the side) but its most important role is in keeping the hip and pelvis stable during single leg tasks including running, jumping and hopping. A stable pelvis also assists in controlling movement at the knee and ankle and is an important consideration in the rehabilitation of injuries at these joints.

So why do they switch off?

The major reason we see under firing gluteals is due to our sedentary lifestyle. Prolonged sitting in particular means that the gluteals are not required to work at all and are in a somewhat lengthened and ‘stretched out’ state. The combination of inactivity and increased length weakens the muscle leading to overuse of the hamstring and overload of the lower back, amongst other issues. Athletic performance is also inhibited and the risk of injury heightened.

So what are the best ways to switch them on?

Here at Flex our therapists are highly experienced and capable of providing you with an exercise program tailored specifically to your needs and your level of function.

Below are three exercises regularly taught as part of a program to help both switch on and strengthen your gluteals. Please ensure you seek advice specific to your needs before performing any new exercises.

1. Prone hip extension

2. Side lying clam

3. Sit and stand squat