Powerfully Pain Free: Preventing a “Glutiny”

Do you you feel your quads and calves more thank your glutes when you get up from a chair? Does your low back wage a constant battle with you, especially after sitting down for prolonged periods of time? Do you get frequent hamstring cramps when you exercise even if your hydration and nutrient levels are topped off to perfection?

If so, then your muscles may be staging a “glutiny.” Put simply, your brain may not be talking to your butt and it may be breaking your body down.

Sit all day, engage in lower body repetitive stress activities (ie, endurance sports) and you could very well begin sowing the seeds of a “glutiny.” This is never a good thing and eventually will begin to break you down.

Sitting takes a huge toll on your body and the longer you do it throughout your week, the more it affects you. It has been linked to a whole host of negative side effects on your health.

“Researchers have linked sitting for long periods of time with a number of health concerns, including obesity and metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions that includes increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Too much sitting also seems to increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. (Sitting Risks, How Harmful is Too Much Sitting? Mayo Clinic endocrinologist James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D.).”

The playgrounds and neighborhood parks where we played as kids, if we were living true to what our bodies are designed to do, were not meant to get replaced by a maze of cubicles where we sit for hours on end. Sit less, increase the quality of your life and your body will perform better on a regular basis. You’ll most likely be happier to from being able to move around more and keep your muscles working a lot better.

The key to happy low backs, knees, ankes and hips are properly working glutes. If they function correctly, you’re in business. If every movement your lower body makes starts, ends or is stabilized, powered, balanced by your glutes, you’ll move better than you ever have.

“The gluteus maximus muscles extend, abduct, and externally rotate the hip, which means that they are the primary muscles involved in sprinting, cutting from side to side, and twisting. The glutes are the speed muscles, which will allow you to outrun your competitors (Bret Contreras, Advanced Techniques in Glutei Maximi Strengthening).”
. What does this mean? If you walk, the glutes help extend the hips.

Like to play golf? The glutes drive the hips to power the club head through the ball as they provide the foundation for the rotational muscles of your trunk.

Play tennis? The glutes aid in keeping your knees from exploding every time you stop, cut and move at speed.

Long story short, if you move from A to B somehow, your glutes need to be involved. So why not train them to get involved as much as possible?

If they work, all of these activities can be done a longer relatively injury free. If not, the chances of a mild protest from one of the above mentioned areas go up quite a bit. If your glutes aren’t working, the potential for pain to wreak havoc with your body goes through the roof.

You’ll break down a lot faster, and it won’t be pretty. Typical signs of this include:

The low back arching as the hip flexors, lats and spinal erectors tighten up (think someone with “swayback”).
Circumduction (foot making a circular motion in the plantar flexion process of the gait pattern) in runners
Hip hiking and internal/external rotation in a single leg squat
Torso rotation in a single leg squat
Forward rounded shoulders
Tenderness at the base of the neck
Headaches behind the eyes
Excessive pronation

Common injuries include:

Over pronating and “flat feet”
Patellar tendonitis
Plantar faciitis
IT Band Syndrome
Knee pain
Hip pain
Hamstring strains/pulls
Groin pulls
Low back pain
Excessive soft tissue trauma
Increase in both sheer and compressive forces in the discs of the spine that can lead to degenerations and nerve impingements. If you’ve ever had sciatica, you know how much fun this can be.

The following strategy will help you to manage the effects of sitting down all day and lower body repetitive stress activities.

1) Set a timer, and get up ever 15-20 mins
Not only will you get out of your chair, you’ll get your legs moving and blood flowing. This will help everything from keeping the lower body happy to keeping your focus sharp.

2) Stand up and breathe
This is a great way to keep the entire body happy. Breathing has been widely used to increase everything from athletic performance, relaxing your mind to eliminating low back pain. One of the easier ways to do this is start with taking five breaths with a :03 inhale, :05 hold and a :07 exhale. You should feel a lot more relaxed head to toe after doing this.

3) MOVE!
Be warned, a minor amount of lower body muscular discomfort may accompany these exercises!

a) Glute Bridges
Quite possibly the most effective (not too mention convenient) way to hit the glutes. It is a staple of lower body post op rehab programs for a reason: it works to strengthen the glutes to support the hips, knees and ankles.

All you need is a little bit of floor space, a timer and the willingness to put the work in.

b) Clamshells
These will hit the glute medius is a way that will make you scream “uncle.” Hell, “aunt” too if you do them correctly.

c) Mastering the hip hinge
There are few ways that are better to hit the glutes and hamstrings as mastering the hip hinge. The benefits also include building stronger muscles from the back of your head down to your heels. Get to the point where you can do this on one leg and the benefits go up even more!

In today’s world, it is almost impossible to escape sitting for long periods of time throughout your week. Although some people use a stability ball as a chair to help and some have even gone as far as to incorporate a treadmill into their work station.

If you can take a few daily time outs and make sure you hit the glutes in every workout you do, your chances of moving better and feeling good will go up a ton!


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Never attempt any new exercises mentioned in the VelowReviews blog without a thorough evaluation from a physician, personal trainer, strength coach, athletic trainer, physical therapist or sports chiropractor.