Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hip and low back health w/ Gluteal function

The vast majority of people I see and assess on a daily basis are terribly deficient in hip mobility and function. Especially in the strength and recruitment of their glutes. The glutes are possibly the most important muscle in your body. Well I should say it's probably the most important muscle that is being left out of your training and movement throughout the day that can lead to a life where you can move more efficiently, stronger and feel much better. 

The gluteals
  1. It is a single joint muscle, meaning it attaches to the bottom of the pelvis and to the femur (one joint) so it has huge benefits to keeping the lower back and hip region healthy if it is strong and able to function optimally. The hamstring on the other hand is a double joint muscle, meaning all but one head attaches from the hip all the way down to the bones of the lower leg. Problem because this can lead to hamstring dominance if the glutes are not functioning the way they should, and leave the lower back up for problems due to the glutes not kicking in when they need to. The glutes function in hip extension is pivotal for performance as well as lower back and hamstring health.  
  2. The glutes are also a very thick muscle so they are incredibly strong. They should be the biggest, strongest, fastest muscle in the body. This has huge implications on speed and strength development. They are also the direct center of the body, furthering their importance in connecting each part of the chain. If the glutes are lacking not only are you setting yourself up for injury but you're also drastically reducing your abilities because you will not be nearly as strong or as fast as you could be.       
  3. Almost every person I see has some sort of pelvic tilt issue, and usually their hips are sitting in Anterior tilt. So the anterior portion of the hip (hip flexors) are too tight and the glutes are inhibited from functioning and therefore very weak, and this also usually leads to gluteal atrophy. So when the glutes should be extending the hip they are actually many times unable to fire (contract) and that's when big problems start. The body compensates and your low back and hamstrings take the load, and if you're lucky enough to not blow out your back you're severely at risk of hamstring issues and other problems.  Most of the time anterior pelvic tilt is due to something like this.
  4. The glutes also have many functions that we don't really take into account. For instance the anterior side of the glute medius has a different function than the posterior. This has many implications as the glute complex is actually three different muslces: minimus, maximus, and medius, all with different functions in different planes on differing sides. There is a ton of stability going on through the glute, for proof stand on a balance pad for one minute on one one foot. The glute should also be able to produce tons of force and movement when recruited (even though many are unable to recruit them). To keep this blog from going on for days lets just say the glutes are extremely important
Alright how are we fixing this? Well....I'm actually going to be a jerk and get into that next time, but it'll include some Muscular Activation Techniques and some Mobility stuff then. And I'll leave you with this. Now you'll be sure to understand why the glutes are so important. 
Obviously this girl has not experienced gluteal atrophy. 

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