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Glute Engagement: Why Strong Glutes are so Important

The glutes are made up of 3 different muscles: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and the gluteus minimus. They are active components of walking, running, and climbing. They also act as a support system for the spine and back.

Why are your glutes so important?

The strength & stability of our glutes is what propels us in walking and running. The glutes also help to protect and support the lower back and spine by acting as both a stabilizer and a mobilizer. Having strong glutes, and knowing how and when to engage them, helps us to avoid using (and injuring) our backs, especially in bending, forward motions. Strong, engaged glutes also take pressure off our lower body joints, helping to keep them healthy and pain free.

Are you using your glutes?

It’s very common for people to lack strength and definition in their glutes. Some people have a “lazy bum,” meaning their glutes are uneven in strength. Our ancestors were naturally glute dominant walkers, but over time the majority of us have become quad dominant walkers that neglect our glutes. This contributes to low back pain and lower body joint pain. 

How can you train yourself to use your glutes?

When we walk and go up stairs, our glutes should be engaging. Becoming aware of how you walk is one way to start incorporating glute engagement into your everyday life in order to strengthen your glutes and support the health of your back and lower body joints.

Steps for Walking Glute Engagement:

1. Stand in a split stance with your left leg forward. Put your hand on your right glute.

2. As you lift your right heel off the ground as if initiating a step, engage your glute muscle (gluteus maximus). Feel the muscle recruitment with your hand.

3. As the opposite leg swings through, make sure that the pelvis stays level to engage the lateral glute (gluteus medius).

Glute Engagement Exercises

Try these exercises, prioritizing your glutes to perform the movement. Notice how it feels to engage your glutes. This is the engagement that should be incorporated when you walk.

Stride Stance

Single Leg Balance

Single Leg Deadlift

Double Leg Bridge

Single Leg Bridge

Side Lying Clam

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