Are you suffering from low-back pain? Rest assure, you are not alone. It is estimated that 80% (!) of all adults experience low back pain. Whenever you ask friends of family for advice what to do about it, many of them will advise you to “strengthen your Glutes”. So what are they, is it true and why are they so important?
The Glutes is the common term used for a muscle which is called the “Gluteus Maximus”. This is muscle found in your buttocks area. It is the largest and one of the strongest muscles in the body. The muscle is responsible for stabilisation of the core and hips and is especially involved with squatting, running, lunging and bending activities.
Many of us have underactive gluteus maximus muscles because of our constant sitting lifestyle. As a consequence, other muscles will compensate for this underactivity. One of the muscles compensating is the Erector Spinae muscle, found just either side of your spine, resulting in possible lower back stiffness. Another muscle that frequently compensates for an underactive Gluteus muscle is the hamstring. We often see patients in our clinic struggling to perform the “bridge” (see picture) because they are experiencing a cramping sensation in the hamstrings. This should not happen when the gluts are working properly.
There are many exercises one can do to re-activate the glut muscles. One of the problems with some of these exercises is that it is very hard to isolate the glut muscles. When performing the popular glut bridge exercise (start by lying flat on your back, heels on the floor and knees bent, hen press through your heels to lift your hips as high as you can, squeezing your glutes), people with underactive gluts will feel tension in the hamstring. This means that the hamstrings are dominant and are taking over from your glutes.
The following exercise however is designed to reduce the overactive lower back muscles as well as the overactive hamstring muscle out of the equation. The exercise is called the Cook hip lift. Best is to click on this link and have a look at the youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4I9F9rIqwM
If you are experiencing lower back pain, please seek medical attention before attempting this exercise.