No doubt many of us would like a lifted and toned butt. The look is appealing, but strong glutes (those are our butt muscles) are important for more than aesthetics.
Standing & Posture
Our glutes have an important role in keep us upright all day. We often take that for granted. The back and butt work together to hold us up straight. Our tendency to sit and slump makes their job even harder. Daily glute exercises would be a great habit to get into. They are large muscles. They can take daily workouts.
The glute max is the largest muscle in the body. It’s the back of the butt. When you think of the butt, you are thinking of the glute max. The muscle is a major mover in propelling us forward with every step. If you are an athlete you need your butt to propel you forward and up in nearly every movement you do. Athlete or not, if you walk or jog your butt is required so that other smaller muscle doesn’t try to do the work of the largest muscle we have. Next time you go for a walk notice if your butt is involved. What do you feeling working or moving your forward?
We also use our butt to stand up. Do you like standing up? Learn to like butt exercises.
The sides of our glutes help us balance and create pelvic stability. With each step we take if our glute medius isn’t strong enough we would lose our balance. It’s one of the reasons you sometimes see seniors shuffle step with a wide stance instead of stepping one foot in front of the other. They are losing balance for lots of reasons, but one of them is that their glute medius is getting weak. Working the outer thighs and leg exercises like the clam and side lying leg lifts can help. To check which side is stronger in your body close your eyes and stand on one leg. One leg will probably be easier to balance on. That leg has better strength in the glute medius (among other places).
Tight Hip Flexors
Because of our sedentary lifestyles, we are a society of tight hip flexors (the muscles in the front of your pelvis). You can stretch those muscles, but strengthening the glutes is another tool to help lengthen the hip flexors. When we want to lengthen a tight muscle, we need to stretch it and strengthen the opposing muscle. Working together we can create more balance in the body.
Reducing Back Pain
Perhaps most important, proper glute strength can help reduce back pain. The glute medius is a factor here. It plays a role in pelvis stability and if it doesn’t do its job, then we may walk with a hip sway. Picture Jessica Rabbit walking. Her hips sway side-to-side and we think it’s sexy, but that is wreaking havoc on her low back because her low back is also swaying side-to-side with every step. She has no pelvis stability when she walks. That’s not sexy. That’s a hip replacement in a few years.
Likewise when we have imbalance between the front and back—really tight hip flexors and really weak glutes, the hip flexors can pull on our lower back tugging it forward. It’s the glutes job to balance out the hip flexors in a lifetime game of tug of war. So the glutes are playing tug of war with the hip flexors and they are also playing tug of war with the lats (muscles on either side of your back). Balance is a key factor here. Weak glutes often come with tight lats. The muscles need to balance each other out.
One of the best glute exercises to start with is a Shoulder Bridge. It can be done wrong, but it’s hard to do it wrong. Make sure you feel your glutes (and your hamstrings). You should not feel this exercise in your back. Here’s a video.
To read about our dying butts click here.
If you want to make sure you are working your butt not your back click here.
To find out more about that not so sexy hip sway click here.
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