We are sitting more than ever, even people who class themselves as fit and active and who participate in sports regularly can't escape the long commutes, the never ending computer work and the sofa at the end of a long day.
When we sit we are putting our glutes in a stretched position. Research has suggested that stretching prior to exercise can impede performance, so what effect does stretching our glutes for 8 hours during the day and then going straight to training or a workout have on our performance?
If we are sitting more than ever and putting our glutes in a stretched position for hours at a time why then when coming to a yoga class would we stretch them even more? Pain is complicated but it sounds like a recipe for "instability" and could potentially increase the likelihood of injury.
The last training I attended it was emphasised that you have to earn the right to stretch and I think the lumbo-pelvic area is an area of the body that this is especially pertinent to.
The gluteus maximus which names sounds reminiscent of a gladiator in the arena is the muscle that gives shape to our derrière, I don't think it's a coincidence that it has a mighty name as it's the largest muscle in the body and should be strong and be able to fire appropriately. Sitting for long periods may inhibit its ability to fire appropriately and then something along the posterior chain will have to overwork in response, so if you get calf, hamstring or low back "tightness" your glutes may not be firing appropriately or in the correct order.
There are two other gluteal muscles along with the gluteus maximus which are positioned more on the lateral side of the hip and provide dynamic stabilisation to the pelvis and lower extremity. These are especially important when walking, running, squatting, waking up stairs and single leg activities such as kicking a ball...so essentially all physical activities.
So what to do about this? Not only do we want our butts to be aesthetically pleasing we want a well functioning body that has glutes that are able to respond appropriately to the activity that we are performing without pain, dysfunction and compensation. We can't all give up the commute and give up our day job but we can take steps to ensure our glutes don't develop amnesia. We can start by limiting our stretching (outside of sitting) to after we've earned the right to stretch. We can do simple glute activating exercises prior to working out, training and exercising. We can start working on doing simple strength training for the whole lumbo-pelvic-hip complex. Want to learn more keep an eye on this page as I'm working on a workshop called Recruit Your Glutes where we'll be exploring this in more detail and exploring creative ways to enable your booty to be more bootylicious.
Advanced clinical massage therapist and yoga teacher.