The Glute was King…in Caveman Days
Have you noticed your pants don’t quite fit over your backside like they used to? Is it hard to differentiate where your back stops and your butt begins? How about low back or knee pain?
When I was attending The Perform Better Fitness and Rehab Summit in Chicago some time ago, a well known strength and fitness coach said ‘…we’re becoming an assless society’. It arose quite a chuckle from the several hundred attendees in the crowd. An abrupt statement, but in five words communicated a reality that those of us in the fitness and rehab world have come to witness on a daily basis. Technically speaking, the speaker was talking about our Glute muscles and how these muscles are becoming weak and atrophied in most of the population today. Our Glutes SHOULD BE our largest muscles in our body. Unfortunately for most they are not…(I’ve even seen guys at the gym with bigger biceps than their Glutes!)
So why the Glute shrinkage?
To answer this question we have to look back at what movements the human body was created for…to hunt, gather and evade.
10, 000 years ago humans were moving 8 to 12 hrs per day in search of food. In addition to these marathon-style walks, add in a few doses of sprints (while evading sabre tooth tigers), climbing (up trees, over hills and walls of rock) and you had a highly functioning human!
Fast forward to 2013 where for most, the longest walk of the day is our ‘hunt’ at the grocery store, and our biggest strength demand is lifting our ipad. Is it really a surprise we are experiencing more pain, body weight issues and health problems than any other time in the existence of humanity?!
If it was all about aesthetics most can get past the fact that our glutes may not ‘shape’ our pants like they used. My concern as a clinician begins when a client presents to my office with back or knee pain. Pain in these areas is often a result of Glute dysfunction. When the Glutes don’t do their job, the back or knees pick up the slack, and as a result get injured.
So what can you do about your not-so functional backside?
Since our society doesn’t plan on resorting back to the hunt and gather caveman days anytime soon, it’s best to find exercise movements that promote good Glute function. But before starting a Glute program, it’s a good idea to get an orthopedic and functional assessment. This helps identify specific muscle imbalances that can be the root of your ill-fitting pants or body aches. Also, some Glute exercises are better than others, so guidance from a fitness professional is worth the investment. A properly constructed program will focus on exercises that address both the mobility and stability of your core and hips…which will consequently remind your body to move like a caveman!
For an interesting study on weak glutes and SI joint dysfunction check out this article online:
the relationship between hamstring length and gluteal muscle strength in individuals with sacroiliac dysfunction. Amir Massoud Arab,1 Mohammad Reza Nourbakhsh,2 and Ali Mohammadifar1 J Man Manip Ther. 2011 February; 19(1): 5–10.
Stay tuned next time and I’ll talk about the Queen…the Abs!
Greg Morrison, Registered Kinesiologist/RMT, is a former professional athlete and Canadian National Team member who owns Morrison Health-Soft Tissue & Sport Therapy in Medicine Hat, AB, CAN. Greg specializes in helping his clients perform their best whether it be at work or in sport.