Updated March 2016 

Gluteus Maximus and Minimus

Weak Gluteal Muscles

The most important of the skeletal muscles in the body is the gluteal muscles. This group of muscles consist of the gluteus minimus, medius and maximus. Of the three, the maximus is the largest.  This is the muscle that gives you the necessary power to push or to propel your body upward or forward. The need for this muscle is as important as performing a triple jump in track and field to simply getting out of bed.  When this muscle does not provide the power that is needed to raise the lower body, then the quadriceps must compensate.

However, the gluteus muscle group is the most neglected of all of the skeletal muscles. Most of us do not compete in track and field everyday but we all sit for extended periods of time.   This is the very group of muscles that MUST stop functioning when we sit. In fact, we reduce the flow of blood to this group as well when seated. This adds to the problem of weakening the muscle.

Chances are right now that you are on this site because you have have weak gluteal muscle concerns. You are most likely doing the very thing that cause them to become weaker. Sitting.

This may be unavoidable and understandable. But let’s understand more of what sitting does to your glutes.  Sitting also reduces the activity of the nerves that are involved in stimulating and contracting them. This is very significant and detrimental to the healthy functioning of the glutes.

Dilemma? Choosing between lifestyle versus discomfort

Does this mean that we must choose between sitting for extended periods of time or healthy glutes to relieve lower back and glute muscle pain?

The answer is not so simple. Many sources of information that you will come across to answer this question will explain to you that the answer is simply to feel guilty about your sedentary career or lifestyle and to immediately rush to a gym and incorporate numerous complex, very challenging and perhaps difficult glute activating reps.

This does work for some. Some of us can and will succeed at this. But for the rest of us, it will take either more convincing or a different approach in order to truly address this problem.

The average person with glute muscle weakness also has lower back pain. They are linked. Weak glutes lead to lower back issues.  Your lower back depends on your hip flexors, glutes and hamstring conditioning in order to remain balanced and safe.

painful glutes and sitting
Rushing to the gym or quitting your desk job is NOT always an appropriate option.   If you already have pain, you are less likely to exercise.

To begin to answer this question, you will need to become more aware of what skeletal muscle group you are affecting and at what time.  This does not mean that you will need to take a class in physiology or kinesiology.   For the time being, understand that sitting is an immediate compromise to your glutes.  When they are compromised, then what they do and what they protect also are. This may make one feel guilty but this is the type of guilt that leads to compelled action. You will no longer want to continue to treat your glutes the same way.

There is a dilemma for treatment of this problem of weak glutes. Most methods of treatment are the same regardless of whether they are recommended by you family doctor, physiotherapist, personal trainer or from the internet. These methods are the same because the gluteal muscles require a specific exercise movement. Even though there are some variations to them, essentially it is based on the same movement. This may seem unappealing to some so it is easily disregarded and forgotten. This leads to more discomfort and an avoidance of treatment.

One solution is to incorporate these exercises into your everyday regiment so that it doesn’t feel like extra work. This way you can perform the exercise as you perform your everyday tasks. The advantage is that it becomes more natural to do and eventually becomes an important way to keep these muscles conditioned to prevent or minimize injury.

Lunges are good for your back

One very important way to strengthen the glutes is by performing the lunge. This exercise both strengthens and maintains them.  However no one really wants to perform them due time and the difficulty level that this movement requires.

This exercise is one of the most recommended movements by practitioners because it is necessary.  You simply cannot improve your glute muscle function without it. All athletes perform because of its value.

glutes exercise for back pain
The average person with glute muscle challenges and lower back pain can perform this exercise without having to invest a lot of time.  To see how this exercise can be performed with little time invested, please go to the Weak Gluteal Muscles Page.  If you prefer an easier method in which to begin to strengthen your glute muscles, then go to the One Simple Rule (How to Protect Your Back) page before trying any lunges. This is actually an easily incorporated technique that you can perform frequently.

This exercise will help treat both your glutes and reduce lower back injury.  Perform this exercise  whenever you need to lower your body and also to avoid leaning forward. Do not give yourself the option of leaning forward. This will prevent lumbar disc injury.

In the course of a single day,  you can perform this exercise dozens of times with no extra time invested.  After one week or two, you will have performed it hundreds of time with little injury to your lower back.
Within a month, you should notice a big difference in your glutes and lower back with a significant reduction in pain.

Exploring Further Options

If you find this information helpful, then you should find many of the other pages on this site also of value.  Please take the time to read about what is available on this site.  If you like the recommended exercises and are willing to learn a new and effective treatment for glute conditioning and lower back pain, please go to theprogram page.  Here you will learn many more essential and effective movements specifically designed to recondition and retrain the glute muscle group.