Building the Ultimate Back – A Focus on the Gluteus Maximus

31/10/2016

In our recent blog, Back to Basics – Actively Managing Low Back Pain, we focused on the significant role of having a healthy spine in preventing back pain. Now, we will be introducing you to the gluteal muscles, or “glutes”, which are equally important in maintaining a strong back.

The glutes are comprised of three muscles: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. The gluteus maximus, as the name implies, is the largest of the three muscles. It is this muscle that gives your rear end its shape. In this article, we will be concentrating on the gluteus maximus and the exercises that will enable you to strengthen this muscle and, consequently, your back.

What is the Gluteus Maximus?

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The gluteus maximus muscles are the powerful muscles attached to the coccyx and to other bones. Because of its location, a spasm or tightness of this muscle can pull on the coccyx and result to pain when you lower into a sitting position or raise yourself to stand up. The pain is normally felt on just one side.

Gluteal Amnesia

Professor Stuart McGill, famous for his research in spine biometrics, coined the phrase “gluteal amnesia” to describe GM inhibition. Professor McGill discovered that patients who are suffering from lower back pain tend to have gluteal inhibition, which results in dominance of the hamstring muscle for hip extension, which increases the force load on the anterior capsule of the hip and the labrum. Having weak or inhibited gluteal muscles increases the probability of injury and impedes athletic performance. Aside from sedentary lifestyle, hip or back injury can cause gluteal inhibition.

Exercises to Strengthen the Gluteus Maximus

Here are a couple of exercises we recommend to strengthen your gluteus maximus muscles. You can read more from the article featured on the 6th issue of Excel Life.

Glute Bridge

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The Glute Bridge is one of the most effective lower body workout to strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, hip and lower back muscles, and the core stability muscles. It also helps to strengthen the stabilization of the spinal cord. This exercise also gives your glutes greater definition, leaving you with a much more toned and firm backside.

How to:

  1. Lie on your back on a mat, knees bent at 45 degrees, with your arms crossed against your chest.
  2. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the ground, until your torso is in a straight line from knees to chest.
  3. Lower your hips and butt back to the ground.
  4. Repeat for 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

 

Donkey Kick

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Also called a bent-leg kickback, donkey kicks do not require any equipment and can be performed anywhere. The donkey kick works your lower back, core, legs, and bottom. This exercise tones all 3 bottom muscles, making it a great alternative to the squat.

How to:

  1. Position your body in tabletop position with hands under your shoulders, knees under hips, feet flexed.
  2. Pick your right leg up off the ground, keeping your knee bent, and push back as if kicking someone with your foot flexed.
  3. Lower your knee back down, without touching the ground.
  4. Repeat for 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps.

For more guidance on strengthening your back, our team here at Excel is ready to help. Please call us at 1300  650 510 or send us an email at info@excelphysio.com.au.