I love talking about the glute muscles when I’m teaching classes or working 1:1. I’d say it’s the most common word I say during a session. That’s because our glutes are essential for a well functioning body AND because they often get forgotten in our modern lives.
As we have quite a sendentary life our glutes suffer as a consequence. We sit down a lot at home and for work and sit in our cars to drive to places instead of walking. We’re using out glutes less, so they ‘unlearn’ how to engage when you need them the most. Our bodies adapt to the movement patterns we do most often. If we’re not using the glutes correctly for walking and lifting then other parts of our body get involved. This can be when aches and pains happen in areas like your lower back and knees. We need our glutes to be strong and active.
I’ll share my top tips for glute strength and also tell you why glute strength is important for your overall health and of course your lovely pelvic floor.
So, Why IS glute strength important?
They help your body stay upright and power you up hills and stairs
The glutes help keep the pelvis in the right position, they act as elevators when you need to lift your leg backwards or when you get up from bending forward.
They create stability around your hip joint and help with mobility
This is especially useful for all types of movement. Whether you love to dance, play sport or go walking, your glutes are helping your hips move in many different ways.
They help support the health of your knees and your lower back
Quite often when we feel pain in either the knees or the lower back it’s because of a problem with your hips. If you’re lifting and reaching for heavy things and using your back to do the work it will quickly become sore. Your glutes are perfectly placed to do the work instead of your back.
Sometimes it’s just a case of simple adaptations to your movement patterns to ensure the glutes are working and not your lower back or knee that is taking the strain.
Your glutes support your pelvic floor
One the keys to a well functioning pelvic floor is your alignment. The aim is to keep your pelvis in a neutral position instead of tucked under or tucked out. Your glutes will help your pelvis to maintain a neutral position and viola! Your pelvic floor will be happy.
But don’t overdo it and cause tight glutes!
Be warned! The answer to all of your problems isn’t to do 100 squats per day and aim for a strong butt. While on the one hand I’m suggesting you focus on glute strength I also need to add that it’s important you do it the right way. If you do too much of one type of exercise without stretching out the glutes then you could end up with tight glutes. That would cause an imbalance somewhere else in the body, which we absolutely don’t want.
So it’s really all about balance.
Glutes are great and we need to spend some time making sure we are using them.
Top tips for strengthening your glutes
The best way to work on your glutes is to move in a variety of different ways. There are tons of specific glute exercises out there in Google land but what’s important is how you do them.
Here is a short video to show you how to squat effectively. It’s a much smaller movement than you might see in a gym class because the focus is on alignment.
When I’m teaching yoga classes I offer guidance that gets your glutes working in many different poses. So for example, in a standing lunge I will say push your front foot down into the mat to feel the back of the leg engage.
Your body loves variety and diversity. Working in insolation on one muscle group can be useful but it’s also important to work on functional movements. It’s important to focus on those movement patterns that we use everyday, so your glutes can engage more effectively in your daily life.