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 Dumbbell Row is an exercise that every one of my clients will do at some point in their program. I will have clients perform this exercise once they have a strong enough core and can keep a flat back in this bent over position. It is a great exercise whether you are doing a light 15 rep set or doing a very heavy 3 reps.
What happened to the deadlift? This used to be a staple exercise for all lifters, including bodybuilder types and athletes. Of course, this lift is essential for power lifters and typically they are the few that I see performing the deadlift in the gym. So why is this crucial exercise being excluded from training programs everywhere? There is a major risk factor, but only if you approach the exercise incorrectly. Its benefits when done correctly can result in some of the best strength gains for all exercisers.
The fitness industry is full of hype. Hype for the new, never seen, developed by the most brilliant minds to tone, tighten, and get you the body you’ve always wanted. Heard this before? Every few years a theme comes along and makes people believe this new workout regimen is the best and only way to workout. Almost all of these fads do not include the deadlift and just because we haven’t heard about it in years, doesn’t mean it is an obsolete exercise. In fact it is the best exercise to work the posterior chain muscles. Think of the major muscles on your backside: glutes, hamstrings, back. These will get a great workout along with the quads and stabilizer muscles (abdominal muscles, including the tva, and many more). Your back, especially erector spinae, will see major improvements in strength.
In fact these are commonly weak muscles with many people. Considering how we live or I should say how we sit, deadlifts can be a great exercise to strengthen those underused muscles neglected in our daily life.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CES, CMT #75123
4193 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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