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BUTT WHY? The Importance of Having Strong Glutes

by Physio Beatrice

Gluteal muscles, also known as “Glutes” are our buttock muscles, they consist of Gluteus Minimus, Gluteus Medius, and the Gluteus Maximus. These muscles play an incredibly important role in how we stand, sit, walk, run…basically most of our day-to-day activities.

If you have experienced any low back, knee, ankle or heel/foot pain, you must have wondered – why does the physio need to assess my buttock muscles which seem irrelevant to my pain/problem? Why are physios so obsessed with glutes strengthening?

This is because the role of our glutes is to control the hip and lower back movement – Our glutes help us to extend our legs, lift our legs out to the side, and to maintain proper pelvic alignment while standing on one leg.

Not just a “Flat Butt”

Our entire body functions as a chain with each major joint represented as a ‘link’ in that chain (image above). The lower part of our body chain is very dependent on the links around it especially the hip link which attaches the lower body to the trunk above it. Any changes we make at the hip ‘link’ can result in a change in the position/action/function of the links above and below –  low back, pelvis, knees, ankles and feet.

Weakness in our glutes can lead to poor positioning or functioning of our hips and lower back. Compensations may occur for this weakness which changes the biomechanics of all of the lower body. This may then lead to inappropriate or excessive forces going through some of these other structures which often result in injury or pain.

What causes weak glutes?

Unfortunately, in today’s world, many people are living a sedentary lifestyle – we spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, on the sofa, or in a car. This leads us to suffer from under-active or weak glutes. Basically they just aren’t used enough. Menopausal women are at an increased risk of glute weakness. You can read more about that here.

The classic signs of having weak glutes include:

  • Knees collapsing inwards while doing a sit-to-stand or squat or lunge
  • Inability to maintain a level pelvis when standing or squatting on one leg
  • Trendelenburg walking pattern (walking/running with a hip drop)

The Good News is…

There are a lot of exercises that can help to strengthen your glutes. Below are some examples of beginner exercises that can help strengthen your glutes:

  1. Glute bridge

2. Side- lying hip abduction

3. Squats

Great, hopefully all of us have a better understanding of the importance of having strong glutes by now, BUT – I am having low back / hip / knee / ankle / feet pain, where should I start?

At Vital Core, we strive to provide excellent physiotherapy care and tailored treatment program to suit individual needs, hence the treatment plan that we give is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Talk to one of our Vital Core Physios about your goals – whether is it return to sports, or to build confidence in walking around the blocks, we will help to address your problems and to achieve your goals!