We know that having strong gluteal muscles is important for athletes and in everyday life. These muscles help us stand up, walk, run, and jump. The glutes also help control the position of the hip and leg, allowing us to have proper stability and movement patterns. Most of us know how to look up exercises on google, for example googling “how to strengthen my glutes”. When researching gluteal exercises yourself, you will probably be able to find a large list of exercises including squats, lunges, clamshells, leg raises, etc. However, we still have patients who are doing these exercises come into FunctionSmart with weak glutes and/or pain in their lower extremities!
Why is that happening?
Shouldn’t the muscles get stronger when you are exercising? The problem lies in how we are performing the exercise and how we are using the new strength we have. Many patients (including myself at one point!) have what I like to call “glute amnesia”. Our brain forgets how to turn on the glutes and uses other stronger muscles to take over instead. Then we fall into the nasty cycle where the glutes get weaker and weaker where other surrounding muscles continue to take over the glute’s job. This would be fine, except… our glutes have an important role that the hamstrings/hip flexors can’t do! So when you perform your workout routine with all those great exercises found on the internet, such as squats, we continue to reinforce this bad pattern of muscle activation.
How do we fix this?
Now comes the time to retrain the brain into actually using and strengthening the glutes! Our therapists at FunctionSmart can assess for poor muscle activation patterns and compensations and implement a specific training program to get those glutes firing and doing their job again! This is called neuro re-education, so yes the muscles might be doing the work but the brain power is the key! Then… once we are able to isolate and strengthen our glutes we have to train our body to use the new strength we have to create proper movement patterns, which is the motor control portion. With this specific training, we can help reduce injury rates and keep you doing what you love to do!
I am a Physical Therapist with over 25 years of experience caring for people with pain and difficulty with movement. I specialize in Pelvic Health PT and work with men, women and children with pelvic pain, bowel or bladder dysfunction, core weakness or pelvic instability, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. In my spare time I enjoy triathlons and endurance sports and especially love a good trail run in our local mountains.
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