The Gluteus Maximus. It’s the king of all the skeletal muscles in your body. By sheer volume it takes up more space within your body than any other muscle. This may be apparent in some individuals more than others. But the fact of the matter is, no matter who you are, what you have behind you is big news.
Lately, wherever you look you’ll find fitness experts singing the praises of abdominals and the core. They are so forward-focused that they’ve failed to stop and look at the other side of the equation. Literally. You know all too clearly that a strong core is good for health and well being. But how many of you ever really concern yourself with the strength and stability of your glutes? I’m guessing not too many. Sadly, if you can’t see it in the mirror, then it doesn’t seem to exist for you.
So what do your glutes do?
Briefly: they extend your femur at the hip, they tilt your pelvis posteriorly, externally rotate your femur at the hip, and in a full standing position, they support the trunk and pelvis on top of the femur.
More importantly, what does this mean for you?
The glutes are very much a standing muscle. Compared to other primates, ours are the biggest. This is because, unlike other primates, we walk erectly for the better part of our lives. In order to maintain this fully standing and erect posture, we need to rely on the strong thick fibers of our gluteus maximus to hold us upright.
Unfortunately, I have some bad news for you. Your glutes are not living up to their potential. At this moment, you’re probably sitting down. While in this seated position, your glutes have been stretched. They have lost their elasticity. You sit in this position for days at a time.
It’s not your fault. It’s society. In the past few decades we have become so seated and forward-posture dominant that our bodies are being forced to adapt unnaturally. As a result, knee and back pain is becoming more prevalent among the typical office worker. You see, after all the abuse, your glutes have given up. They have accepted the weak demands you have placed on to them. Now when you stand and walk, your body must rely on smaller, weaker, and less efficient muscles to pick up the slack.
These new and inefficient movement patterns begin to manifest themselves as clicking in the hip. Tightness in the lower back. Maybe even a slight ache around the outside of your knee. The rest is all downhill. The real issue (weak glutes) is never addressed. You’ll just accept the fact that old age, wear and tear have gotten to you, and you’ll begin to look to other methods of dealing with pain. Typically that means surgery. Then what happens? You go under the knife, come out pain free, take a day or two off, and then go back to work where you return to the behavior that caused all this trouble in the first place.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you’re working out, which you should be, try and incorporate a lot of butt-friendly exercises along with stretches for your hip flexors and quadriceps. Try to avoid just working on the muscles you can see in the mirror. Make it a point to stand up more often and move around throughout the day, and you can avoid some of these very serious issues. At the very least, set a timer on your desktop and stand up every 20 minutes.
Remember, we live in a fast-paced world, where our society and knowledge is growing at an exponential rate. Sometimes our old primitive bodies have trouble keeping up with the demands we now place on them on a day-to-day basis.