Weak Glutes Exercises and Treatments

There is a Chinese proverb “too much sitting will damage the flesh/muscles” (1) or as we commonly say here “Use it or Lose it”.

We need to understand that our lifestyle involves a lot of sitting - we sit to drive a car, to watch TV , sit at the table for dinner , sit at our desk in the office.

Yes, we get up and move around or the office has a stand up desk, but we need to do this consciously - how often have you looked up from your desk to realise that 2 plus hours have passed and you’ve not moved. Then when you do move, what feels uncomfortable - legs, feet, back.

It doesn’t take much for many of us to feel the effects of very little exercise these days. A quick kick of the ball in the park or running around with the kids can give some of us sore, heavy legs. You start to ‘feel your age’, but really, we should be feeling great no matter our age.

Then there’s the sudden onset pain; getting out of the car at the end of the day “OUCH my lower back” You don’t feel like you’ve done anything strenuous but your back just aches.

These are all common stories we hear in the consultation room. Clients come in for a massage to provide some pain relief. Where muscle medicine is different is that we look past the initial pain relief you are wanting so we can provide a greater level of sustained relief. We want to get to the bottom of the cause. And often the bottom of that cause is …… the bottom!

Yep - the gluteal group of muscles is one of the greatest primary muscle groups in the body. It is responsible for moving the legs, it also assists the body to be upright. Unfortunately, with our more sedentary lifestyle these muscles can become lazy. (2)

This weakness in the gluteal muscles will then transfer into over engagement of the hamstrings or put more load on the smaller secondary and support muscles. The overloading of these support muscles, (the Quadratus lumborum, piriformis, obturator ext/int., quadratus femoris, gemellus) gives rise to problematic lower back issues like sciatica and bulging discs.

So our therapists will generally check on how your glutes are firing and the latent strength you have in your glutes if you come in with lower back pain as well as a host of other symptoms like, hamstring strain, overloaded calves, upper back tightness. So you can see, your glute strength is pivotal to so much that’s going on with your body. Our goal is to assist in removing any underlying issues that are causing the pain, rather than simply providing short term relief. That’s why we keep digging when we talk to you, when we are assessing you and when we are treating you, as it all informs us of what’s going on deep down.

There may also be some at home work! Yep, sorry, you need to be active to gain improvement.

Long periods of sitting or even standing without too much movement, like at a stand up desk or an improper habitual standing position, may cause the glutes to become lazy, here is a simple way to check the glute firing pattern;

Glute firing pattern

  • Prone position - (face down on the stomach)

  • Have your partner place an open hand on your glute

  • Then raise one leg off the floor/table

  • If you are moving your leg (even the smallest bit) and the glute doesn’t engage you are using other muscles

  • Try again with the hand on your hamstring or lower back

  • If the hamstring or lower back activates before glutes then it indicates that the gluteal muscle group is not switching on properly.

So to keep the tone in your butt and avoid ‘the sag’ keep your glutes activating with some simple exercises.

Bum to Wall progressing to Bum to Bench -

  • feet hip width apart

  • Hinge at the hips and push your bum backwards as if going to sit down, ensure your knees are tracking over your toes

  • Touch the wall behind lightly

  • Use your glutes by pressing your heels into the ground, to return you to a standing position

  • Repeat 10 times, progress to 3 - 5 sets of 10 a day

  • When you are confident with this move and you can feel your glutes engaging progress to a bench

  • Repeat the same movements with a deeper bend to touch the bench lightly and return to standing. If you can’t touch and return, sit briefly and then stand, using your glutes to pull you up, not your quadriceps.

  • Repeat 10 times or until fatigue, ensuring your form is always correct. Progress to a light touch on the bench and 3 - 5 sets daily

Step Ups

  • Starting on a step and graduating to a higher bench once you have correct form and strength

  • Put your weight on your left foot and raise right foot off the floor and place it on the step/bench

  • Swap the load (weight) to the right foot and bring the left foot to meet on the step/bench

  • At this point you should feel your glutes engaging on the planted foot each time

  • Step back down on the right foot with the left foot to follow

  • Repeat 6 - 10 times on each foot remembering to have the focus on your glutes engaging

Relieving the pain you are feeling with a soft tissue treatment will allow you to start this small exercise program for strength improvement. Combining the exercises with a treatment plan will help you achieve these results quicker and in a more sustained manner.



3. https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/332281278727302465/

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