Mylie Cyrus likes to shake hers, Kylie adorns hers in gold hotpants and Kim Kardashian insures hers for $21 million. What am I talking about? Butts of course!
However, this isn’t an article about how to get the perfect bum, but if you suffer from back pain then read on because the problem may not be your back at all.
Most of us spend far too long sitting on our butts (or gluteal muscles) rather than using them. We sit down to eat our breakfast, we sit down to travel to work and once we get to work we sit down again. We sit down when we’re eating lunch and then, after sitting down on the journey home, we sit down again to eat dinner and watch a few hours of TV. As a consequence of all this sitting our glutes weaken and can become inhibited.
And weak glutes can not only cause low back pain, but many other lower body injuries
- Hamstring strains
- Low back pain
- Knee pain
- Hip pain
- Ankle instability
The gluteal muscles (commonly referred to as glutes) in the butt play an incredibly important role in our core stability. If these muscles are weak, this can contribute significantly to lower back pain. In order to understand why here’s a brief explanation of what these muscles actually do and why strong glutes are so essential.
There are three glute muscles; gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus. These three muscles are responsible for hip rotation and extension (moving the leg back). Gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body and as well as being responsible for hip extension (moving the leg backwards), it also provides stability to the sacroiliac joint (just above your tail bone) and overall lower back stability through its connection with the back muscles. These muscles needs to be strong.
When the glutes are weak and we attempt a movement involving hip extension – such as walking or running – often the muscles in the lower back and hamstrings at the back of the thigh are used predominantly. However, these muscles should be suppporting the glutes rather than taking over from them so end up doing more work than they should.
So you can see why having strong gluteal muscles is essential and definitely something you need to address if you suffer with back pain.
How to Strengthen your Glutes
There are many different exercises that target the glute muscles. Here are just a few that you can do at home without any equipment.
Side Lying Clam
Weak glutes sometimes need to be reactivated and reminded of the job they’re there to do. This exercise is perfect for this. It can help to get someone to watch you do this to make sure that you’re not rolling the hips back as you lift your knee.
This is a great exercise to re-activate and strengthen those lazy glutes. The important thing to remember is to squeeze your bum as you perform this exercise and get your hips nice and high.
Squats are THE exercise for improving your lower body strength. Not only do they target the glutes but the legs too. If your glutes are very weak then start off with a chair squat.
You can then progress to performing squats without the chair or adding some weight by holding some dumbells or a kettlebell as you perform the exercise.
Be patient! If your body has created compensatory patterns to favour using the back or hamstring muscles over the glutes you need to ‘retrain’ it to start using these muscles properly again. But do persevere. Your glutes play a critical role in your core stability and if you suffer from back pain then strengthening these muscles may be the key to eliminating this pain.