Are you one of those that have been told repeatably that you have weak glute muscles, and they need to be strengthened? Is it always that simple?
And why do the Glutes come up so often and what is their importance?
Strong, well-functioning Gluts leads to:
1 – Increase Performance
2 – Increase Speed
3 – Decrease injury risk
4 – Decrease daily back discomfort
Let’s run through the gluteus maximums (glut max) functioning and simple biomechanics of the hip.
The glute max will be the primary muscle to extend the hip. This is then followed by a contralateral contraction of your erector spinae (muscles on either side of the spine) and then an ipsilateral contraction of the erector spinae to balance the pelvis while the hip extends.
The above is known as a normal movement pattern and any change in the sequence of the muscle firing is known as an abnormal firing pattern or altered firing pattern.
The next thing we need to understand is agonist and antagonist.
The agonist muscle will be the primary mover of the body part. The antagonist will be the muscle that counteracts the action of the agonist muscle.
The agonist for hip extension is the glute max and when it contracts the hip extends. The antagonist here is the psoas and rectus femoris muscles and they will relax to allow the hip to extend during the sequence.
An excellent example of this is the picture of Ray and Jabu in their running stride. Their hip is fully extended allowing them, to get maximal contraction from the glute max. This allows them to increase their stride length and have a better reciprocal follow-through of that leg causing an even further stride length = increase speed and power = increase performance.
How can this go wrong and make it seem that our glutes are weak?
One of the commonly overlooked issues that we come across is our antagonist muscle group benign overactive. This does not allow our hip to go into that fully extended position in our stride that you see Ray and Jabu doing and hence does not allow for the glute to contract effectively.
We term this inhibition. The glute max is now being inhibited by the overactive antagonist muscles, leading to the weakening of the glute max muscle. The body will now try and adapt to the gluts being weak and will need another muscle to perform the extension of the hip as the gluts are not allowed to fire and activate as they should. Now we see an altered firing pattern: The body makes the erector spinae fire more to extend the hip for the inhibited gluts and thus are now doing a job that is not there’s and a job they are not strong enough for so they will in turn fatigue, shorten, cause pain, create spinal changes, a major snowball of events from just one group of muscles over firing and the weak gluts being secondary.
By: Raynard Tissink