It is estimated that 80% of all adults experience low-back pain.(1) For many people poor posture is to blame which can be alleviated with a proper exercise and stretching routine. Even those with intervertebral disk injuries or other diagnosed back conditions will benefit from properly chosen exercises when done correctly.
You may have heard that the gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, but you may not know that it is also one of the most underused muscles. Having strong, well-functioning gluteal muscles (commonly mentioned as “glutes”) is crucial for good posture and those with low back pain. In fact many PROPER injury rehabilitation programs include strengthening the gluteus maximus as well as the other gluteal muscles. Have a bad ankle? Strengthen the glutes. Bad knees? Strengthen the glutes. Bad back? Definitely strengthen the glutes.
Many people have underactive gluteus maximus muscles due to our constant sitting lifestyle. When seated they are placed in a lengthened position. Being that most Americans spend the majority of the day sitting, our glutes are constantly in this lengthened position. This can lead to the glutes being underactive when performing daily activities like walking, squatting, or kneeling to the ground. As a consequence, other muscles will compensate for “lazy” glutes. This along with other compensations can ultimately lead to low back pain.
Gluteus Maximus activation exercise: Floor Bridge
The floor bridge can be used as an activation exercise to “wake up” the gluteus maximus. This is a light exercise that almost anyone can do. For a deconditioned person this may serve as a main strengthening exercise. If you are experiencing acute lower back pain, you may want to wait for the inflammation to calm down before attempting this exercise.
The goal is to have your glutes do the work. If you feel the tension in your hamstrings, then you are either doing it incorrectly, you are hamstring dominant, or both. This means that your hamstrings are taking over for the glutes. If you are having trouble getting your glutes to do the work, seek out a qualified fitness professional for assistance. Contact Jerry for a free consultation.
1)Clark, Lucett. 2011. NASM’s Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training. Philadelphia, PA. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
2)McGill. 2007. Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation, Second Edition. Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics . pp. 178.
744 San Antonio Rd. Suite 2, Palo Alto, CA 94303: Breakthrough Personal Training. Expert and professional personal trainer serving the Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, and Menlo Park area. Low back rehab exercise, floor bridge, glute exercise, low back posture.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CES, CMT #75123
Breakthrough Personal Training
4193 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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