Gluteal Amnesia - Weakness In Your Glutes Can
Cause Stress Issues
today's fast-paced lifestyle, you may be so worried about what your
brain can remember that you don't even think about the memory of
your muscles. As strange as it may sound, your body really does
have a memory all on its own, and it will remember and respond to
your activities. This is great if you have a well-balanced exercise
program, but it can spell disaster for a sedentary lifestyle. If
you suffer from nagging knee, lower back, shoulder, or groin injuries,
you could be suffering from a condition known as gluteal amnesia.
This is a condition where your body can't or forgets how to properly
activate the gluteal muscles, whether it's due to postural flaws
or lack of use. As a result, you may lose the ability to move your
hips through a full range of motion which adds stress to your knee,
lower back, and even your shoulder joints! Common injuries associated
with gluteal amnesia are patellofemoral pain syndrome, Iliotibial
Band Syndrome, Disc Herniation, and Piriformis Syndrome. Fortunately,
you can reverse this condition with the right corrective exercises.
The gluteal muscles include the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus,
and the gluteus medius. These muscles control movement at the hip
and knee. The gluteus maximus is involved in hip extension and external
rotation, and decelerates hip flexion and internal rotation. Another
important job that the gluteus maximus does is assist in maintaining
an upright torso. However, when you sit for long periods of time,
you are not using your gluteal muscles. Prolonged sitting adds to
gluteal amnesia. Your hip flexors become tighter which leads to
reciprocal inhibition of the gluteals. In order words, overactive
hip flexors "turn off" the gluteus maximus. Other causes
of gluteal amnesia are as follows:
- Too many quadriceps dominant exercises.
- Poor sitting or static posture.
- Improper abdominal training.
- Soft tissue contractures (i.e., tight hip flexors and
low back extensors).
- Articular (joint) fixations.
- No landing properly from jumps (i.e., landing from
a rebound in basketball).
- Knee or back pain sufferer.
So How Will You Know If You Suffer From Gluteal Amnesia?
One sign is a feeling of tightness in your hamstrings after
you do glute dominant exercises such as deadlifts, pull-throughs,
and step-ups. This is especially true if you have normal flexibility
in your hamstrings. If your gluteal muscles become too weak, the
hamstrings and the adductor magnus will begin to pick up the slack
for the jobs that they can no longer do. This will put greater strain
on areas like your knees, groin, or lower back. Usually personal
trainers and fitness enthusiasts attempt to correct tight hamstrings
and groins by performing an endless amount of stretches. However,
tight muscles don't always mean there is a flexibility issue, but
could indicate an activation problem.
stability, or pelvic stability, is essential for a healthy body.
You can quickly test the stability of your core by doing a few overhead
squats in front of a mirror. Face the mirror so that you can see
how your knees move during the squat. If your knees cave inward
to the inside of your feet, you need to work on gluteal activation
until you can do this exercise easily with your knees in line with
your second and third toes, or the tip of your shoe. Other movement
impairments to look for are the anterior travel of the knees (shifting
forward during the squat), and excessive curvature of the lumbar
(lower back) spine.
Posture plays an important factor in gluteal activation. A postural
flaw that can lead to gluteal amnesia is known as anterior pelvic
tilt. This occurs when the pelvis tilts forward and the stomach
protrudes. The forward tilt of the pelvis stretches your gluteals
into a relaxed state which decreases your ability to properly activate
them. You can increase pelvic stability while simultaneously decreasing
knee and back pain with the right exercises. Increasing pelvic stability
means that you are re-training your muscles to pull the pelvis back
into a neutral position so that your gluteal muscles can be activated
efficiently. Pelvic lifts, or bridges, are a classic option. Lay
on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
Lift your pelvis until it forms a straight line with your back.
Drop down without touching the floor and lift again. Other great
gluteal activation exercises to include are clam shells, birddogs,
and donkey kicks. Tight hip flexors are also characteristic of anterior
pelvic tilt. If your hip flexors become too tight, they rotate your
pelvis forward, overstretching your abdominal and gluteal muscles.
Massaging and stretching the hip flexors can help you to better
activate the gluteals. A great massage technique that you can use
is known as self-myofascial release. There are several e-books dedicated
to teaching SMR.
As I have mentioned before, the abdominals are also affected in
an anterior pelvic tilt posture. The abdominals, specifically the
rectus abdominis and external oblique, prevent anterior pelvic tilt.
However, they are unable to do their job if they are in a relaxed
state. Properly training the abdominals will help to bring the pelvis
into a neutral position so that you are better able to use your
gluteals. Planks are good abdominal exercises for reversing anterior
pelvic lift. Laying face down on the floor, support your body with
your forearms and toes. For a challenge, lift one leg at a time
to form a straight line with your back. Pushups, dead bug variations,
reverse crunches, and side planks are also wonderful choices for
increasing pelvic stability and reversing gluteal amnesia.
After performing gluteal activation exercises, then it's time to
do integration exercises. You know how to fire the gluteals, now
you must learn how to use them during functional movements. Hip
hinges, deadlift variations, lunge variations, and pull-throughs
are only some of the choices you have to further strengthen your
gluteals. Having a balance of gluteal and quadriceps dominant exercises
will help to protect you from injury. Getting involved in a good
program that includes exercise rehab for the gluteals will help
you get your body back into fighting shape so you can face the day
with good posture, superior confidence, and excellent health.