Looking back a few years ago, before I began working in the fitness industry, I had no concept of Glute activation, and why it is so important. I used to go to group fitness classes, and run. Well, I used to try to run anyway, but always seemed to gain some kind of injury whenever I started to run consistently. It was very disheartening. It would either be some kind of pain through the front of my leg or hip, or the dreaded shin splints. My shin splints got so bad that the pain was evident even when I would go for a gentle stroll around the block. If only I knew then what I know now. These injuries were a side-affect of my once weak Glutes. I discovered this from a couple of sources; my physio, and my fitness studies in becoming a Personal Trainer. Over the past few years, I have been working hard at strengthening my Glutes by being mindful during exercise and everyday movement, and including a broad range of exercises to strengthen and activate them. My shin-splints are now a mere memory, and I haven’t had any pain/pulling through the front of my leg for a long time now.
In my last post, I asked you if you have a lazy bum, and gave you some ways to help assess if this is the case for you.
In this post, I am uncovering a few different reasons why your glutes may be weak and lazy to begin with:
- Sitting down
When in the seated position, the muscle through the front of the leg is contracted (shortened), and active, whereas the Glute muscles are stretched out (lengthenned) and relaxed.Have a think about how much you sit down in your day-to-day life – driving, working or studying, eating meals, sitting down to watch tellie, even cycling.
- Previous Injury
If you’ve had pain from an injury in the past, our body will try to move in the most pain-free way possible, which can lead to compensations, and specific muscles such as the core and Glutes can ‘switch off’ to protect us from pain, and over time become inactivate and weak.
- Unbalanced workout routines
When you perform a lower body exercise, you can be working the following muscles; quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Some exercises engage the glutes much more others, so it is important to know which exercises you should be including into your repoirtoire. A mixture of exercises such as pelvic bridges, deadlifts, hip thrusts, and leg abductions are all great exercises to strengthen your Glutes.
- Poor technique
If you are doing an intense or fast-paced workout, it is common for your body to revert to the most efficient way to perform the exercise to relieve fatigued muscles. Sometimes this more efficient way is not of quality movement, and can mean you’re using the incorrect muscles. It is very easy for beginners and experienced gym-goers alike to learn poor technique, and pick up bad habits that you may not even be aware of. Signs that indicate poor technique when doing lower body exercises such as squats and lunges are; the weight shifting forward to the front of the foot, knees caving inwards, pain in the lower back, knees or front of the hip, rounding through the back, and always pulling up sore through the front of the leg but rarely the Glutes.
So if the above apply to you, why not pay special attention behind you?
Next week I will be covering how you can work on strengthening your Glutes. Until then, start squeezing!
Kim is a Personal Trainer at NAFC whose areas of expertise & interest include; strength training, (with an emphasis on the lower body and Glutes), core, Kettlebell, running, & triathlon training.
Kim is running a series of workshops that teach you technical & practical skills to build stronger Glutes & core. Enquire today.