The importance of strong glutes
For the health of your joints, it really is so important to keep your muscles both strong and flexible. All of the muscles in your body have an important role but the glutes, being one of the largest muscles in the body, happens to be particularly important. Let’s explore why strong glutes are so important.
The glutes and your knees, ankles, and feet
The glutes are a major muscle of the lower body. Although the glutes only control motion at the hip joint, when this muscle is weak, it can also impact your knees, ankles, and feet. I know I always say this but remember the entire body is connected!
Let me give you some examples of how the glutes relate to your knees and feet.
If the glutes aren’t strong enough to control your hip joint, other muscles such as the hamstrings are going to have to take on extra work. Also, if the glutes can’t control the hip joint adequately, extra strain will be placed on the knees.
Think about someone who squats with bad form. One thing you may see is their knees coming way too far forward. Other than just poor body awareness, a likely cause of this is weak glutes. Now, think about how that person probably moves around throughout the day. If they have poor squat mechanics in the gym, you can bet that when they squat down to pick something up in their everyday life that they are probably doing it in a similar fashion. This places repetitive strain on the knees and could eventually lead to an injury.
Let’s move all the way down now to the foot. When the glutes are weak, this can cause the foot to collapse in (also known as flat feet). Now flat feet can definitely be a structural issue but this issue may be enhanced by hip weakness, particularly weakness of the glutes. Research has shown that adding in glute strengthening to the treatment of flat feet is more effective than just strengthening the intrinsic foot muscles. Bringing us back to….the whole body is connected!
The glutes and your hips
Glute strength plays a direct role in the health of your hips.
A very common issue with the hip is called hip impingement. With hip impingement, gluteus weakness as well as poor glute activation is commonly found. (This one I also know from personal experience!)
When the glutes aren’t activating properly, the hip joint doesn’t stay in a nice position. The hip is a ball and socket joint and the ball part is covered by what is called your labrum. Think about if the ball part of this joint travels too far forward. This would cause “pinching” on the labrum which can be painful or cause a tear over time.
All the muscles of the hip but especially the glutes, need to be working properly in order to keep the hip joint in an optimal position.
The glutes and your low back
Surprise surprise, the glutes can also relate to your low back. It’s not uncommon to find weak glutes in someone with low back pain or to find a muscle imbalance when comparing the left and right glute. Now there are many more causes that may need to be addressed with low back pain but I am just trying to show you the importance of this muscle.
Many people may experience tightness in the glutes with back pain as well but keep in mind, a muscle can be weak and tight at the same time. I know it sounds weird but it’s probably more common than you think.
Can the glutes be too tight?
I know I keep talking about how the glutes are commonly weak but are they ever just too tight?
Of course this can happen as well, everyone is different. Two people with the same type of back pain will not be treated exactly the same. In my experience, it’s more common that the glutes are either weak or both tight and weak but there are always exceptions.
Some people may just have tightness. This could happen for a variety of issues. People who are “butt grippers” are more likely to have tightness.
“Butt grippers” are people that constantly walk around with their glutes contracted or squeezed. You probably know if this is you.
The glutes are more than just the glute max
When we think about the gluteus muscles we commonly think about the gluteus maximus. This is the largest of the three muscles that make up the glutes. There is also a medius and a minimus.
The gluteus medius is extremely important in hip stability and is probably more commonly weak than the glute max.
The major action of this muscle is that it brings your leg out to the side (away from your body, also known as hip abduction).
For this reason, it also keeps your hips and pelvis stable when you have your weight on one leg and even when you are walking.
When someone stands on one leg and the hip drops, this is usually because of glute med weakness.
Performing a straight leg raise while lying on your side is a good way to assess if you have glute med weakness.
The fact that working on your glutes gives you a nice butt is definitely a plus, but as you can see, the importance behind strong glutes goes way deeper than just physical appearance.
So basically, this new trend of females working out their glutes is actually good for their bodies. I am all for women getting into weight training! But always remember you can over do it and muscles need rest and recovery.
I hope you guys found this interesting and educational. Keep learning about your body!
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