…But a pain in your back, pelvis, hips and knees too!
Most people in this modern world of ours suffer from weak glutes at some point in their lives. Have you ever had an ache round the outside of the hip or tightness in your lower back? This could be due to a sedentary lifestyle, by which I mean sitting or lying down a lot, with little activity.
Now I know, if you’re one of my members that you are active! However, sitting for long periods of time or slouching at your desk or workstation are major contributors to weak or inactive glutes…
Here’s when weak glutes are a problem
As a major muscle group between the upper and lower body, the glutes play their part in keeping you upright, moving and sitting. That’s every part of your life!
If your glutes are not active in their role, then other muscles will take up the strain – figuratively and literally.
Connecting the very lowest part of your spine (sacrum), to your outer hip (greater trochanter) the Piriformis assists with stabilising your spine during lateral movement of the thigh (stepping forward or up).
If this muscle is overactive whilst compensating for the others slacking off, you may experience sharp pain right in the centre of your butt cheek, or around the outside of your hip. If it’s underactive, your pelvic and lower back muscles will absorb the impact they should be taking – either way, you get a sore back and possible twisting of the pelvis leading to all sorts of discomfort.
The hip flexors (Psoas and Iliacus)
They may not be a part of the glutes, but they do work in partnership with them, which means they are bound to get involved. These muscles effectively wrap around the inside your pelvis from the top of your thigh bone (femur), to the lumbar region of the spine (that bit below your ribs and above your pelvis).
If the hip flexors are overactive, working to compensate the glutes, you will find your back is drawn towards your thighs, resulting again in lower back pain, pain in the front of hips and possible front of your pelvis, due to shortened flexors, poor posture and muscle fatigue.
Your hams are connected between the sit bone of your pelvis (ischial tuberosity) and lower leg (fibula and tibia) on either side of the knee joint. The hams are responsible for the ‘antagonistic’ movement of walking and running when your quads are not contracting.
A weakness in the glutes can cause the hams to tighten in response to the need for compensation resulting in muscle strain, tendonitis or tendinopathy and of course, imbalance in the pelvis and lower back.
How to deal with lower back pain due to weak glutes
Any imbalance in the glute muscles can cause twisting of the lower spine and since it’s all part of the same machine, this will throw out your back, hips, knees and possibly ankles too in what is termed, a pattern of compensation. So no, glutes are not just a massive pain in the arse, they’re likely the cause of pain from the waist down! Fun…
In a nutshell, you need to stretch and strengthen the right muscles, and remember to stand up frequently if you sit for work. There are numerous exercises you can do to strengthen the glutes. Choose from Pilates, yoga and weight based classes, or ideally a combination of all three.
It is vital that alongside strengthening the glutes, you also stretch the muscles in the compensation chain. The next blog will take you through a series of exercises you can do at home to achieve all of this.
In the meantime, join me for a range of classes that will be focusing on precisely this are over the next few weeks. Just head over to the booking page.