Posture and Glutes: Why Are They So Important?
Whether we are looking to improve our general fitness, athletic performance, or decrease the risk of common pains and injuries, training the glutes to function properly while increasing in strength is one of the most important things you can do. Recently, the press has asserted that sitting is “the new smoking.” Like smoking, spending several hours in a sedentary position can have a multitude of negative health consequences such as increased risks of developing cancer, heart disease and type II diabetes. But did you know that too much sitting also negatively impacts the ability of the core and glutes to function? Which leads to postural issues known as lower and upper crossed syndromes?
With this image the man on the left depicts proper posture maintained through correct exercise technique and programming. The image on right depicts improper alignment and compensation.
Excessive sitting over a period of years leads to the main muscles in the body that are responsible for maintaining proper posture, joint alignment, and efficient movement to become lazy. The glutes provide hip and low back stability, hip rotation, as well as strength and power in movements required in sports and activities of daily life. If these important muscles aren’t doing their job properly, a variety of movement compensations can emerge and compromise the body’s ability to tolerate the physical stresses of life. Along with the glutes not working effectively, the hip flexors (the muscles on the front of the hips) and the lower back often become tight, which can lead to an altered pelvis position. This compensation negatively effects how the entire skeleton and its muscles function which changes how we move in daily life.
The first, and most critical step to train your glutes is to be sure you can contract those muscles effectively in the following two basic positions:
1. Lie on back, legs straight, hands palm down under each glute.
2. Breathe deep in through the nose and out through the mouth.
3. Slightly flatten the low back towards the floor as if there is a grape underneath. You want to flatten the grape but do not crush it. This positon is known as your neutral spine.
4. Alternate squeezing the right glute then left glute independently.
5. Try to only contract the glute only. Do not contract your quadriceps, the muscles in front of the thighs.
All the same rules apply as in position one; except:
1. In phase two knees are bent with the soles of the feet flat on the floor. Palms are facing up with a couple of fingers on the hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thigh.
2. The goal is to squeeze each glute independently and with minimal contraction of the hamstrings
Mastering isolated glute contractions in these two positions is a great starting point to learn how to use the glutes more effectively during more advanced movements including all variations of glute bridges, hip thrusts, squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, lunges, step ups. This will also translate over to daily activities such l as walking, running, jumping, and landing.
If you would like to learn more about proper technique for any of the exercises above, and how to use your glutes to maximize your results, feel free to send me an email!