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Why your glutes can be your best friend and your worst enemy

March 3, 2015

 

Almost every day I speak to at least one patient about using their glutes correctly! Lets get this clear, I am not an expert on how to achieve the J-Lo derriere or balance a champagne glass on your rear end #breaktheinternet - what I do know is how important these muscles are at keeping your pelvis stable and how often they are implicated in lower limb injuries such as

 

  • hip pain

  • lower back pain

  • medial knee pain

  • recurring ankle sprains

  • shin splints

  • hip bursitis

  • hip and knee osteoarthritis

 

But I do squats! How can my glutes be weak?!

In this blog post I'm homing in on the function of, in my opinion, the most important glute muscle - gluteus medius. This is not the big buttock muscle that many of us spend hours tirelessly trying to tone! This is one of the smaller glutes, just below that muffin top area of our waist.

 

The gluteus medius has a very important function of ABducting the hip e.g. if you lie on your side and lift your upper leg up away from your lower leg.

 

 

 

I don't spend all day abducting my leg, so why is it a culprit in so many injuries?

 

When the gluteus medius is weak, it means the pelvis on that side is not supported well, causing us to drop through the hip like so..

 

Over time, the weak muscle gets tight and can become very painful. With repetitive activities over months or years, you can start to roll in at the knee or over-pronate at the ankle (the flat footed among us) which can lead to the types of injuries mentioned previously. Now of course, there are many people with problems stemming from the ankle or from poor stability of the knee (chicken and egg situation), but so often the gluteus medius is the main issue in a huge range of my patients irrespective of age, gender, lifestyle and body type.

 

How can I fix it?

 

Once a weakness has been identified, it will take some teaching to figure out how to get the muscle to switch back on again. Once you figure out how to acitvate the muscle, you can be given various different exercises to improve the strength and endurance of the muscle. Over time, rehab will be focused more to re-training your brain to figure out how to use your new found glutes in whatever sport or activity it is you want to do pain free.

 

When you're strong in your all important hip stabilisers, your glutes really are your best friend and will help your body to face the challenges you present it with #painfree !

 

If you have any questions or want to book an appointment, drop me (Rebecca) an email on balancedosteopathy@hotmail.co.uk - Thanks!

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