What do your glutes do?
There are different glutes; three to be exact:
- gluteus maximus,
- gluteus medius, and
- gluteus minimus.
Together, these muscles are responsible for hip extension, internal rotation, and abduction of the hip.
The glute medius and minimus work together to promote hip abduction and prevent hip adduction. These muscle come in most handy when needing to balance on one leg, where controlling the motion of the pelvis on the femur is of the utmost importance.
Glute maximus is the primary hip extensor muscle, and also the largest of the three gluteal muscles.
Strong glutes are important for proper pelvic alignment, propulsion during running, and even single limb stance support. Strong glutes also help to support the lower back during lifting motions, and prevent knee injuries during lifting and running exercises. Having strong glutes is fundamental to properly execute many common lower extremity exercises like deadlifts, squats, and even walking.
3 Reasons Strong Glutes are Important:
1. Reduce Back Pain:
Your glutes are responsible for hip extension, and also its reverse action. When the feet are fixed on the ground, the motion your glutes assist with is raising the chest up from the ground, like as in a deadlift. Therefore, strong glutes are essential to lower back health, since they assist with my pelvic and trunk motions as well. When your glutes are strong, you have a stable pelvis and better support for your lower back, so any load can be more evenly distributed through the lower back and lower extremities. A sign of weak glutes is rounding of the back during a deadlift.
2. Reduce Knee Pain:
Your gluteal muscles create pelvic stability. This is important because your lower extremities function in a closed chain. This means that if something goes wrong at the ankle, it can cause imbalances at the knee and further up the leg at the hip. The same can occur if an instability arises at the hip, it can lead to excess forces on the knee and ankle. This can lead to knee discomfort or pain. Instability at the hip can cause excessive medial rotation of the femur, which in turn creates lateral patellar tracking. Lateral patellar tracking (or lateral kneecap tracking) is a common source of knee pain for many individuals.
3. Increase Power & Athletic Performance:
We already discussed the importance of strong glutes in athletic exercises like deadlifts, and that it can assist in forward propulsion during running (by creating explosive hip extension). Therefore, it is obvious that the glutes are essential to many athleteic pursuits: acceleration, jumping, and even heavy lifting. It goes without saying that the glute maximus is one of the largest and strongest muscles in the body, therefore it has a lot of influence over the explosive nature of an athletes performance. If you let your glutes get weak, you may find yourself less powerful, and efficient as some of your competitors.
One way to spot weak glutes?
- Trendelenberg Test: This test allows us to test primarily the glute medius and minimus. It begins by having the patient stand on one leg and lift the other off the ground. If the pelvis of the elevated leg cannot stay level with the stance leg side, then the test is positive. It indicates that the stance leg has weak abductors, aka a weak glute medius.