I have had a “Love/Hate” relationship with my butt for many years. I can remember even as a kid, I felt like it was always too big!
The funny thing is though, when I look back at photos of myself – I looked so lean….and certainly not with a big butt!
Unfortunately over the years my “hate my butt” times have outweighed my “love my butt” times!
But the beauty of ageing is that you tend to become more accepting of your mind and body…..and in fact just plain happy to have a body that is fully functioning and healthy!
Whether you feel your butt is too big or too small…….this group of muscles needs to work!
In fact this muscle group, comprising of your gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, is the biggest muscle group in the body and it is there for a reason!
What is the role of our Gluteus “Butt” muscles?
These 3 muscles work as a dream team enabling you to lift your leg to the front, to the side and to help rotate your thigh outwards and inwards.
They are the “powerhouse” of the body.
You are using them all the time….even when standing they are helping support your body and are helping you in general to have better balance.
For every type of activity you try, your movement skills and form are positively impacted by having strong, well functioning glutes.
How Do Our Glute Muscles Get Lazy?
For many, a sedentary lifestyle of office work has made this glute muscle group somewhat lazy. It has forgotten how to work!
Couple that with driving or sitting on a bus or train to and from work, then sitting again once home to eat dinner and watch TV has exacerbated the problem.
So What Happens To Us When Our Glutes Don’t Function Well?
When you don’t put enough time and effort into strengthening your “glutes” the other surrounding muscles and joints can pay the price.
The glutes are the driving force for many movement patterns we do on a daily basis so when they are weak, more pressure is put on other muscles and joints….. ie; your hamstrings – which in turn can be injured from misuse or can consequently put strain on other muscles and joints that they come in contact with, such as knees and calves…..it’s a flow-on effect!
A weakness in your glutes also causes a misbalance in the muscles supporting your pelvis…..which subsequently can lead to lower back pain.
All these issues cause a ripple effect throughout your body. When there is a muscle imbalance happening in your lower body it will inevitably show up in your upper body in some shape or form.
How Can You Tell If Your Glutes are Not Doing Their Job?
The following can be an indicator that there is an issue……
In no particular order……
- Decreased hip mobility
- Lower back pain
- Knee pain
- Plantar fasciitis – any problems in the feet – check your glutes!
- Locked ankles or on going ankle issues
- Tight psoas muscles
- Hamstring pulls
- Shoulder tightness or pain – yes even here! The fascia that connects all parts of our body can become tight if the glutes are inhibited, limiting the range of motion in your shoulders. If you can’t create force from the ground up – due to your glutes not firing up properly, this leads to overuse of your arm to generate strength for different movement patterns.
…….so you can see that inhibited glutes can be responsible for many issues in our bodies.
So, What Is The Solution?
Add some more “targeted” glute muscle exercises into your current routine.
An inexpensive and easy way to do this, is to buy yourself some “tubing” from your local Physiotherapist or on-line.
Usually when you purchase this tubing it will come with a little pamphlet of exercises. Pick out the glute focused exercises and add these into your current routine 2-3x per week.
If possible perform these exercises in front of a mirror so you can really focus on your form.
If there are no instructions supplied, try the……
To start – stand pigeon toed, big toes touching, knees bent slightly and knees touching…
If you have reasonable core strength – tie the tubing below your knees – doubled around.
If you feel your core strength is not as strong as it could be – tie the tubing above your knees – doubled around….
…..and if your core strength is strong – tie below your knees and then pull down to your ankles.
Stand feet hip width apart – hips, knees and second toe in a straight line.
Your knees will be tempted to “drop in” here – your job is to keep pushing out gently against the tubing to keep your knees tracking in line with your hips and second toe.
Hinge forward from the hips to a bent over position, knees bent, back is straight, neck is long and draw up on your belly button to support your lower back.
Step out to the side with your right foot (check your knee to foot and hip position – VERY IMPORTANT) – they must be in line.
Step in with your left foot….
Step out, step in etc…
Keep in this bent over position.
Go from one end of the room to the other or do 4 steps one way and then the other.
Constantly check your form in front of a mirror so you can see what is happening with your knees and feet.
Good Form Is Essential Here.
Aim for about 40-50 steps.
Your Friend The Spiky Ball!
As much as we need to strengthen and work this “glute” muscle group, we also need it to be able to switch off and relax when not in use.
Using the spiky ball as a pressure point release technique, is an essential part of the “Glute Strengthening” process.
Do yourself a favour and invest in a spiky ball!
Take the time each day to release and also awaken those sleepy glute muscles by spending a few minutes on each glute.
Lie on your side on the carpet or a yoga mat, come up onto your forearm and position the spiky ball under the side of your glute (butt). Find a tight spot and stay on it until it releases…..then move to another spot.
Do the side of your glutes and also roll the ball under the “belly” (back of your butt) of your glute as well.
Spend about 1-2 minutes on each side.
Taking the time and putting in the effort to maximise the strength in your glutes will make a big difference to how your body moves and to minimise any injuries or muscle and joint strains down the track.
Elaine is a Master Trainer with over 27 years of experience in nutrition and training styles. Being in her 50’s she understands what works for this age group. That is why she has developed the CBT20 Core Body Transformation 20 online 14 week training program and the CF20 Core Fusion 20 online 8 week training program. Elaine has also published a free E-Book on developing core strength in your 50’s.