Strengthening your glutes is important for many reasons, not just helping you look good in your active wear.
If you have wimpy glutes, a lot will suffer including muscle function and movement mechanics in the hips, not to mention strength, power, mobility, stability, posture and performance!
Some people have low active glutes. And these don’t belong to sedentary desk-workers alone. Even fitness enthusiasts, elite athletes and weekend warriors can have them too.
Commonly, low active glutes are a result of lifestyle. You may be training hard every day. But if you spend the rest of the day sitting down, your glutes can still be weak.
Another reason is that of injury. Injury affects the mechanics and motor programming of the body. The tendency is that some muscles will have to work harder, compensating for the weaker muscles. Your movement patterns will change over time and you might not even know it.
How Important Is It to Activate Your Glutes?
Waking your glutes up allows you to have brain-muscle connection which helps fire up your muscle and ready to take on some work.
The glutes have a crucial role in the lower body movements requiring power and strength. Gluteus maximus, in particular, is the largest and one of the strongest muscles in the body.
Gluteus maximus aids you in a lot of everyday movements such as standing up from a sitting position, climbing stairs and staying in an upright position.
Studies say that isolated training of the glutes can enhance the activation of the motor units and the recruitment efficiency, meaning it can improve any performance. It can also reduce the risk of injuries because stronger glutes mean less strain in the lower back and less stress on the knee.
What Do Studies Say?
In a study conducted by Beth Fisher and her team, the researchers aimed to determine whether activating the glutes in a short period can result in neuroplastic changes in primary motor complex.
Twelve healthy individuals participated in the study. Using transcranial magnetic stimulation, motor-evoked potentials (MEPs) were obtained at different intensities as the participants performed a double-leg bridge.
The subjects also had to perform a banded isometric exercise for 1 minute at a time for an hour per day, equaling to 20-minute sessions, for 6 days.
The exercise is a unilateral triplanar exercise performed in quadruped that targets the gluteus maximus. The hip is positioned in 45-degree extension, 45-degree abduction and 30-degree external rotation. (To put it simply, think of the pose of a pissing male dog.)
That’s literally a painful load of work! But it seems that the saying, ‘no pain, no gain’ is true because the exercise was effective in producing notable changes in a short amount of time!
At the end of the week, the researchers found that the training resulted in significant increase in corticomotor excitability and efficiency compared to the baseline.
Can Glute Training Help with Knee Rehabilitation?
Strengthening and skill training of gluteus maximus has been proposed to be beneficial in treating different knee injuries. And this study appears to support it. The researchers propose that corticomotor plasticity will enable better utilisation of the gluteus maximus in more advanced stages of rehabilitation or training. Learning to activate this muscle first seems to be important before prescribing exercises and modifying treatment strategy.
A study conducted by Jennifer Rowe et al showed that individuals with knee pain had weak hip muscles. The gluteus maximus is one of the muscles that have a role in controlling alignment of the lower extremity. It is also seen to be an important muscle to look at when treating anterior knee pain.
The gluteus maximus controls the backward rotation of the hips as well as limb activities during rotational movements. If this muscle is weak, it can change the rotational forces on the thigh during movements and possibly affect the knee.
Mainly, the point on this one is that learning to strengthen your glutes can help accelerate your results and it can save time and effort from doing exercises that might not be much effective.
In training and rehabilitation standpoint, although the glutes are important muscles to consider, it’s also worth to point out that these muscles should not the only ones to look at. Not everyone has weakness in this area. It’s also possible that you may have weakness in other muscle groups.
So the next time you do an exercise, pay attention to your muscles and see which are working and which are needed to strengthen. Or better yet, consult a physiotherapist for more efficient exercises.
Whether you’re looking at strengthening your glutes or need a rehab, you can rely on our Perth physiotherapists at Happy Physio. Consider booking an appointment with us on 9272 7359!
Fisher BE, Southam AC, Kuo YL, Lee YY, Powers CM. Evidence of altered corticomotor excitability following targeted activation of gluteus maximus training in healthy individuals. Neuroreport. 2016 Apr 13;27(6):415-21.
Rowe J, Shafer L, Kelley K, et al. Hip Strength and Knee Pain in Females. North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy : NAJSPT. 2007;2(3):164-169.