That’s right, your glutes (gluteus maximus muscles) may have forgotten how to work the way they should.
For people who sit most of the day, this condition tends to be the norm — rather than the exception.
Glute function tends to diminish slowly but steadily as we get older.
Glute function tends to diminish slowly but steadily as we get older. Sitting or standing for long periods, taking the elevator in lieu of the stairs and simply not moving enough are common practice today. Also, adults don’t typically sprint and jump the way they may have when they were young. Sprinting and jumping are two activities that promote glute involvement.
Over time, the glutes are rendered listless from underuse. Sitting for hours at a time also leads to tight hip flexors, which weakens the glutes through a phenomenon called altered reciprocal inhibition. Essentially that means the front of the hip tightens and inhibits function on the back of the hip (the glutes).
Back and Knee Pain
The phrase “gluteal amnesia” was first used to refer to low back pain patients whose glutes are weak and don’t function effectively. Poor glute function can be the result of low back pain, or the cause of it. However, even in the absence of low back pain, dysfunctional glutes adversely impact movement, keeping you from realizing your exercise potential and increasing the risk of pain and injury.
Luckily, restoring glute function is not complicated.
Individual body segments work together as an integrated system (the kinetic chain) to produce and control movement, with each segment influencing the others. In the case of the glutes, weakness tends to adversely affect the low back and knees. Force that should be centered around the glutes are passed on to the joints above and/or below them. Over time, problems can arise.
How to Restore Glute Function
If your job puts you in a chair for much of the day and you spend a fair amount of time commuting in a seated position, your glute function is probably suffering. Luckily, restoring glute function is not complicated.
- Start by getting up from sitting every 20 to 30 minutes to help keep your hips from getting stiff.
- Introduce this exercise combination three to four days per week to activate and strengthen your glutes: roll and stretch your hip flexors and follow them with floor bridges.
- After two or three weeks, begin taking more stairs when you have the opportunity.
Reestablishing and maintaining good glute function will help you avoid pain and make getting around easier.
Exercises to Work Out Your Glutes
Do 10 slow rows over each of these areas of your hip flexors. Note two different exercises shown.
Hip Flexor Stretch
To stretch your hip flexors, squeeze your glutes, tighten your abs and push your hip forward to the point of muscle tension on the front of the hip. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat up to three times.
Start the glute bridge with knees bent to 90 degrees and toes up. Push through the heels to lift hips until a straight line is formed from the shoulders to the knees, then lower slower. Do one to three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.