Bottoms, butts, backside. Call it what you want, we all have one, but how strong is yours? Did you know your body can actually switch on the wrong muscles because the correct ones are weak or inactive? This is most common in our glutes (butt) and can be the reason for lower back pain, knee pain, muscle spasms, and even nerve pain.
The movements of daily life, sports and most weight-bearing exercises require the spine to move forward, backward, side to side and in rotation (McGill, 2002). When you lean forward, for example, the spine rounds/flexes. When walking, it moves from side to side as you transfer weight from one foot to the other. When performing sporting movements like golf, the spine must rotate to achieve the desired motion.
What are my butt muscles?
The muscles along the backside of your pelvis are commonly referred to as your glutes. The glutes consists of your gluteus maximus (the big muscle), gluteus medius, and your gluteus minimus. These muscles attach from the top of your pelvis to the back of your femur (thigh bone).
Why are they so important?
Your glutes are responsible for stabilising the hip and propelling you forward as you walk, pushing you forward as you walk up stairs, and most importantly for holding your pelvis upright when you stand.
If your glutes are weak or inactive they cannot hold your pelvis in the right position or help maintain correct alignment of your thigh bones. This can cause the wrong muscle groups to be “switched on” and work harder to help compensate for the lack of strength in the glutes. These muscles then cause a change in our walking pattern which can lead to increased stress and damage on our joints. This over extra work and compensation is what leads to back and knee pain, muscle spasm and nerve pain.
Could you have a weak butt?
Have a think about it. How many hours a day do you sit on your butt. When your traveling from one camp site to the next, when you are sitting around the camp reading a book, sitting during happy hour and most of the night.
Too much sitting causes the muscles at the front of the thigh and hips (called your hip flexors) to become short and tight and the muscles at the back (glutes) to become long and weak. Pretty soon our bodies get used to this and pretty soon the pain and discomfort sets in.
Can I strengthen my weak butt
Yes! Most methods of treatment are the same regardless of whether they are recommended by you family doctor, physiotherapist or like me, a personal trainer. The human body is very adaptable and trainable. By identifying the areas of weakness and those are are overworking to can train your butt to work properly to reduce your back pain.
Look out for PART 2 of this blog where I’ll show you four great activation and strength exercises to help.
McGill, S. (2002). Low Back Disorders: Evidence Based Prevention and Rehabilitation. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics.
Want some guidance in a structured workout/exercise plan customised to suit your fitness level, goals and abilities? Why not consider my Online Personal Coaching. Do you have niggling injuries or aches and pains that I can help you overcome to ensure you are Fit4theRoad and can continue your travels? If so, get in contact with me and I can tailor a program of strengthening and rehabilitation exercises to have you back on track. – Kerri