Updated March 2016 

weak gluteal muscles

 Practicing the Reverse Lunge to Save Your Glutes

An Exercise for Weak Gluteal Muscles Leading to Lower Back Pain

It is very common to have weak gluteus muscles, specifically the gluteus maximus.  This is one of the strongest yet most neglected muscles needed to protect the spine.  A strong gluteus maximus is key to pain relief.  Its engagement is important as it activates to mobilize the hips and legs and reduce the workload placed on the lower back.

Extended periods of sitting causes this muscle to deactivate or shut down.  It no longer remains the primary mover for the lower body.  This causes the quadricep muscles to bear more responsibility and strain.   The added strain affects both the knees in addition to the lower back leading to knee pain.

The added benefit of this exercise is that as your glutes become stronger, so do your hips as well as your knees.  Certain forms of knee pain can be significantly reduced with this exercise if done as instructed.

The Reverse Lunge (along with the Seated Lunge) is a very good exercise to help you when long periods of sitting are necessary.  It is Exercise #5 of the Challenge Exercises.  It helps in a number of ways. It helps to:

 Hip Flexors

  1. Return you to neutral tilt (for even disc pressure, reduces posterior pelvic tilt).
  2. Gently stretch your psoas muscle (common area for lumbar pain).
  3. Stretch your rectus femoris (thigh to reduce anterior pelvic tilt).
  4. Strengthen and activate your gluteus maximus (vital for lumbar support and protection and mobility).
  5. Strengthen and condition your back muscles (upper and lower to help maintain a neutral spine, reduces back spasms).

Use this exercise as the primary method to enter either a stooping or kneeling position rather than bending over.

This exercise can be done while sitting and during your breaks. (It is important to have consent from your family doctor prior to any exercise routine such as the Reverse Lunge.)

Reverse Lunge

 Step 1:  Lower your hips down into a squat position.  Keep your feet shoulder width apart.  Your thighs should be just above parallel to the floor.  Place your hands on your hips.

Reverse Lunge

Step 2:  Bring one leg back until the thigh is vertical to the floor.  Do not allow your knee to touch the floor.  Use your hands on your hips to adjust and maintain your hips level and facing forward.  Your back should be straight and upright.


Step 3:  Hold this position for 1-10 seconds.


Step 4:  Slowly bring your rear leg to the forward squat position.  Keep your thigh parallel to the floor.


Step 5:  Hold this position for 1-10 seconds.


Step 6:  Return to a standing position and relax.


Step 7:  Repeat often.

Tip:  If you contract your gluteus maximus before you step backward, it will improve its ability to activate at the right time during most activities.  By stepping further back with the rear leg, you can stretch the psoas muscles for greater benefit.

Use this exercise as a common method to lower your body during everyday tasks.  This method is a safer alternative to leaning or bending over to pickup or reach.

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