Most people spend a huge proportion of their time in a position of hip flexion (sitting down). An inactive lifestyle is a sure-fire way to create glute dysfunction. Extended periods of time in this posture over the long term will lead to negative adaptations in the hip flexor muscles.
Shortened hip flexors don’t allow for full hip extension, which is where your glutes are able to contract with the most force. Additionally, being an antagonistic pair, short and tight hip flexors will actually inhibit your glutes. The actual physical compression associated with sitting on your gluteus maximus will also impair blood flow and neuromuscular function.
Gluteal amnesia is a condition where your body can’t or forgets how to properly activate the gluteal muscles, whether it’s due to postural flaws or lack of use. As a result, you may lose the ability to move your hips through a full range of motion which adds stress to your knee, lower back, and even your shoulder joints! Common injuries associated with gluteal amnesia are patellofemoral pain syndrome, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Disc Herniation, and Piriformis Syndrome. Fortunately, you can reverse this condition with the right corrective exercises.
A postural flaw that can lead to gluteal amnesia is known as anterior pelvic tilt. This occurs when the pelvis tilts forward and the stomach protrudes. The forward tilt of the pelvis stretches your gluteals into a relaxed state which decreases your ability to properly activate them. Other causes of gluteal amnesia are as follows:
• Too many quadriceps dominant exercises.
• Poor sitting or static posture.
• Improper abdominal training.
• Soft tissue contractures (i.e., tight hip flexors and low back extensors).
• Articular (joint) fixations.
• Not landing properly from jumps (i.e., landing from a rebound in basketball).
• Knee or back pain sufferer.
The gluteus maximus and lower back stability
Activating and strengthening the glutes needs to form an important part of your core routine.
Co-contraction of the gluteus maximus with the psoas major contributes to lumbo-sacral stabilisation The gluteus maximus provides stability to the sacroiliac joint (SI joint) by bracing and compression. Excess movement at the SI joint would compromise the L5-S1 intervertebral joints and disc and could lead to SI joint dysfunction and low back pain.
The gluteus maximus also provides lower back stability through its connection with the erector spinae and thoraco-lumbar fascia. Some of its fibres are continuous with the fibres of the erector spinae. A contraction of the gluteus maximus will generate tension in the erector spinae muscle on the same side, providing stiffness to the spinal column.
Gluteus maximus contraction also exerts a pull on the lower end of the thoraco-lumbar fascia, which is a thick layer of ligamentous connective tissue. Tightening of this fascia stabilises the vertebras. People with low back pain often have weak and deconditioned glutes.
Here are some simple but superbly effective exercises to tone up glutes muscles.