I pushed my glutes too soon when they weren’t as strong as I was used to them being; It doesn’t take as long as you think to lose muscle strength and endurance, something I learned the hard way. . The experience also reminded me how important it is to strengthen your glutes in the first place.
“Having strong glutes can really make a difference in your everyday life,” says physical therapist Laurence Agénor, PT, DPT. “Your glutes are actually made up of three muscles: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus. Each one is responsible for producing or assisting with a particular movement at the hip joint. Develop or maintain strength in this particular group of muscles It can help relieve pain, as well as improve your functional ability and quality of life.”
This is because the gluteal muscles are some of our prime movers, powering us through all kinds of activities. “Strong gluteus medius and minimus muscles, for example, could mean less knee pain when climbing stairs,” says Dr. Agénor. “Strong gluteus maximus muscles can help with propulsion if you’re running to catch the bus or trying to keep up with your kids.”
One of the best ways to find out if your glutes are strong enough to support you is to be aware of the red flags that could indicate weak glutes, which Dr. Agénor elaborates on below.
Telltale Signs of Weak Buttocks
1. Pain in the lower back or pelvic area
Lower back pain is often associated with a weak core. But something most people don’t realize, which Dr. Agénor points out, is that your core is more than just your abdominal muscles. “Your core is made up of several muscles, including your glutes,” she says. The entire shebang must be strong and stable to support our daily functions.
Weak glutes can often be related to pain in the lower back or SI (sacroiliac) joint, which connects the lumbar spine to the pelvis, explains Dr. Agénor. “Decreased strength in the glutes can disrupt optimal postural alignment and pelvic position when standing or exercising,” she says. If your rear isn’t strong enough to hold everything in place, you could end up with a hyper-arched lower back, “potentially causing a feeling of compression and pain in the lumbopelvic region.”
Your lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC) is another name for your core, and it contains dozens of muscles and bones in and around your pelvis, hips, and lumbar spine. It supports the upper and lower body, so any weak link in this chain can cause breaks above or below.
2. Having difficulty with stairs
Seeing as how your gluteal muscles work like an elevator, helping you go up and down stairs or hills, it’s no wonder that having trouble with this action is a clue that you have weak glutes. “With stronger glutes, you may notice less pain and discomfort going up and down stairs,” says Dr. Agénor. With weak glutes, the opposite occurs.
In December, I was climbing steps while hiking trails through a park near my home, and I noticed that the real pain in my butt began around the point of my hike as the elevation increased, which matches Dr. Agenor.
3. Feeling fatigued from standing briefly
Weak glutes are a common side effect of a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can lead to dead butt syndrome, also known as gluteal amnesia. This can manifest as numbness in the buttocks or a wobbly feeling when trying to stand up, Dallas Reynolds, DPT, COMT, a physical therapist at ATI Physical Therapy in Illinois, previously told Well+Good.
“If walking long distances or standing for more than 10 minutes causes discomfort in the lower back or sacroiliac joint, strengthening the glutes can also be helpful in relieving this type of pain,” adds Dr. Agénor.
Exercises for stronger glutes
There are no ifs, buts or buts about it: the best way to address any signs of weak glutes is through resistance training. “Some of my favorite exercises to strengthen the glutes are bridges, step-ups, reverse lunges, and side hip exercises like hydrants and leg raises,” says Dr. Agénor. “Sometimes I incorporate a side plank with the side exercises to further strengthen the core.” Remember, your butt is the foundation of your core and is connected to your abs and back by various connective tissues, tendons, and muscular structures.
“These exercises are not only challenging, they help with function,” adds Dr. Agénor. “These exercises are also a wonderful opportunity to engage the transversus abdominis, one of the deep core stabilizers, which will ultimately provide more support to the lumbopelvic region.”
This workout scheduled by Dr. Agénor is a great place to start your glute strengthening journey:
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