The following is a guest post by Caitlin Reid
Having a strong butt is the best. Not only does it make your jeans fit better, by targeting the side glute, the gluteus medius, you can overcome your knee pain for good, decrease lower back pain and stop injuries.
How does the Gluteus Medius help you avoid injury?
It sounds like a magic muscle, but it’s amazing importance comes down to biomechanics.
Because it sits on the side of your butt, it works to stabilise the pelvis, and stop it from dipping down on one side or the other. A stable pelvis creates a stable base for your entire body to work from. Imagine your pelvis is a boat, and your spine is the mast. If the boat is sailing on smooth seas, the mast will be strong. If the boat is being tossed around though, the mast is unsteady too.
Hip joint angle and stability
This important muscle also attaches onto your femur, the big leg bone that starts from your hip joint, and extends to your knee. The gluteus medius helps to keep your femur in nice alignment, particularly when you do sports.
Glutes Medius and Knee Pain
Your whole body is a precious system, and yep, your butt can impact your knees! When the gluteus medius is weak, particularly in women, the lower femur falls inwards, almost into a knock knee position. This puts stress on the knee joint, forcing the knee cap to be pulled out of its central grooves (think of tram tracks). This causes a sharp, pinch that’s a common complaint in women, called patello-femoral pain, and it can stop you from running for weeks.
When the gluteus medius is strong, it helps keep the femur in a straighter position and rather than falling into a knock kneed position, it’s more in line. This helps the kneecap run smoothly in its grooves, and doesn’t put pressure on the structures of the knee joint.
Sound good right? The gluteus medius is one of the most undervalued muscles of the body, and yet it’s so important. I’ve seen so many clients with excessively tight and weak glutes, particularly people with sedentary jobs. This eventually leads to lower back pain and you can get stuck in a tricky cycle of pain and dysfunction.
How to strengthen the gluteus medius
You want long and strong glutes; beautiful chunky butt muscles that help propel you forward and support your pelvis during any activity from skiing to running. The best way to do it is through a mix of functional and resistant training.
*Tip: The ITB also runs up to the side of the butt, so it’s important to keep this long by rolling it on a foam roller after workouts. A strong gluteus medius needs a long ITB!
- Lie on your side with your knees bent
- Lift your feet so they’re together and off the floor
- Open your knees, and lift the top knee without rolling your top hip backwards (keep your hips stacked on top of each other)
- Repeat 20 times on each side
*Tip: Make this harder by wrapping a resistance band around your thighs. Phew! It’s a goodie!
B. Kneeling diagonal toe taps
- Kneel on your hands and knees with your spine in neutral and a strong mid back (don’t let your chest collapse – lift your breastbone away from the floor)
- Straighten one leg straight back behind you, and slowly take it diagonally out to the side, away from your other leg.
- Don’t let your torso rotate, use your core balance to stabilize!
- Gently tap your toe onto the ground with your leg out to the side
- Keep it straight, and bring it back to the starting position with a gentle toe tap.
*Tip: Make this harder be extending the opposite arm out straight in front. Make it even harder by skipping the toe taps, and just moving the leg off the ground without touching the floor.
C. Resistance band butt workout
There are so many ways to strengthen the gluteus medius with a resistance band, but let’s keep it simple.
- Stand with both feet on the middle of the band, and stretch the handles up towards your hips.
- Hold tight and take a side step to the right, keeping your feet wide apart
- Step to the right again and repeat 4 times
- Stop there, and lift the right leg just off the ground, and stretch the band at a 45 degree angle behind you and pulse for 5. Feel that burn!
- After 5 pulses behind you, take 4 big wide steps to the left and repeat.
*Tip: Make this harder by upping the band’s tension and crossing it over so it makes an X in front of you.
Give your gluteus medius some extra attention next time you’re working out to avoid knee pain and lower limb injuries. You’ll have a Beyoncé butt, and you’ll be running faster and longer in no time!
Caitlin Reid is a physical therapist and Wellness consultant. She’s the founder of Aprivé Wellness, an exciting, innovative company offering evidence-based retreats, retreat hosting and individual consultations to help everyone live well. Say “hi” to her anytime at www.aprivewellness.com.