The glutes are the largest muscle group in the body. They are responsible for hip and leg movement – but far more importantly, they stabilize your lower back. The glutes allow us to stand and walk erect. And yours are probably weak – putting you at risk for a long list of possible injuries.
The glutes are made up of three muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) that create the shape of your hips and buttocks. They are located at your center of gravity and they have indirect connections that reach from your lower back to your knees. Because of these connections, the glutes act as powerful stabilizing muscles that affect every region of the body.
If your glutes are weak, an injury can occur anywhere.
Let’s talk about hip problems first. Hip stiffness is a common complaint. Simply overstretching the muscle you think feels tight is not always the answer. If your glutes are weak, your body will tighten the muscles on the opposite side in an effort to project the hip joint. Stretching will destabilize the entire area and then make the problem worse. This can lead to hip flexor injuries. As the hip flexors attempt to compensate for weak glutes, the tendon that runs across the hip becomes overworked, painful and inflamed.
Another commonly injured muscle near the hip is the hamstring muscle group. If the glutes are weak, the hamstrings will struggle to compensate for them – but they are much too small and not ideally located to perform the job correctly – resulting in a hamstring strain. The common denominator to all of these problems is weak glutes. Focusing only on the spot that hurts will never correct the real problem.
The glutes also play a large role in maintaining proper alignment of the knee – which then affects the biomechanics of your ankle and foot. Therefore, weak glutes can lead to knock knees, knee pain, ankle sprains and plantar fasciitis.
When the glutes are functioning properly, they create a stable foundation for your upper body. Weak glutes cause this foundation to become shaky. Have you ever tried hammering a nail while wearing roller skates or walking around in the back of a moving truck bed? Don’t go trying it now, but just know that it’s difficult! That’s what it’s like for your upper body muscles when they have nothing stable to hold on to. Instability causes your muscles to work extra hard to do a simple job. This leads to elbow problems such as tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow and shoulder pain as well.
Are your glutes weak? If you suffer from any of the above conditions, it’s a likely possibility.
The take home message of this blog is that weakness in the glutes can have far reaching effects. Therefore, any physical problem requires a thorough chiropractic examination in order to determine the true underlying cause. My number one priority is to find the source of my patient’s pain, quickly correct the problem, teach them to stay healthy and then release them from care.