Sunday, March 27, 2011

More on Glute Activation

I've been thinking more about glutes after some chats with Colin and also while reading Tim Ferris's new Four Hour Body book.   I am realising more and more that under activated glutes are a big issue for me and lead to a bit of back pain.

A couple of good resources on this in addition to those I've pointed to previously:

This video

and the explanation and video here of the Cook Hip Lift.  That one identifies something that really applies to me - when I do a one legged glute bridge with the right leg, it is my hamstring that cramps.

Stuart McGill calls this inability to use the glutes "gluteal amnesia". The brain has literally lost touch with the glutes, so to speak. It could be that the psoas are "tight" and so it is a case of reciprocal inhibition. Or, the glutes are weak and so the psoas are tight. Heres the thing: It doesn't matter. Turn on the glues and solve the problem.


Rod said...

Eventually glut activation is an awareness thing that is in the gait and foot placement.

Anonymous said...

Following along on what Rod said, neither of these videos gave much useful information on how to preferentially "find" glutes over hamstrings.

Chris, or any readers of this blog, care to share things that have worked for you?

Viktiglemma said...

There is a lot of talk about glute activation for solving all sorts of hip problems. However, has anyone ever seen a study (preferably several) that backs this up?

The way it stands now I can't know if it's just a marketing trick or not.

Rod said...

The process,imo,is actually be aware,acutely,of all the muscles and how they work in isolation and together to give the hip etc,normal movement patterns.Using cook like exercises can be good for this and then you graduate to everyday moving and athletics including your adaptation patterns.This should be an everday thing in sme way.

Bryce said...

With Anon and Vikti, I'd like to know what everyone's recommendations are on training Glute activation. I know that my glutes are absolutely toast after a heavy deadlift day, to where it's almost uncomfortable to sit! So am I activating my glutes successfully? Is heavy deadlifting/squatting an effective approach?
Or are the glute-bridges not only a good diagnostic but also a good remedy?

Anonymous said...

As much as I agree that there are people who don't readily 'fire' their glutes, I do get a bit skeptical of many of these floor based isolation movements designed to retrain the glutes to fire. We saw a very similar fad from physio's and trainers when someone decided that trying to isolate and learn to control transversus abdominus was the answer to back pain. They would spend hours on the floor next to clients trying to teach them to isolate and voluntarily fire a muscle that invariably fired when you gave them something heavy enough to pick up and taught them to do it with good technique. It wasn't so much a case that their TA wasn't firing, it just wasn't being put in a position to fire and had become weak.

I see the same thing with people and their glutes. Runners and cyclists, etc, might claim to be using their glutes for their sport, but for the most part, I just don't see that being the case. Take a cyclist off the bike and get them to lunge (if they don't normally do it), and they are crippled for days in their glutes. They soon start to fire when you put enough load on them to do so. Some remedial work might be required to allow an individual to get into a good dead lifting position for example, but once that position is attained, and there is enough load, the glutes get forced to fire.

My two centsfor what they are worth!

Anonymous said...

"Gluteal Amnesia"? I'm sorry, until it's proven otherwise, I'll just call B.S. on all of this stuff. As Vikti says, show me the QUALITY data.


Anonymous said...

never saw a sprinter without good glutes....

Pewari said...

I guess I'm going to deviate from the crowd and thank you for sharing these :D

I go through stages of suffering lower back pain and at the very least it looks a helpful exercise for stretching out that area - will give it a go.

sewa mobil said...

Nice article, thanks for the information.

Anonymous said...

The average population does suffer from poor glute activation. Dr. Stuart McGill is an extremely good source for info. Thanks for posting things-

Eric Troy said...

Jamie, it is very difficult to compare the TVA to the gluteals.

It is simply not true that just placing someone in a good deadlifting position will "force" their glutes to fire if they have altered recruitment patterns. Many trainees, once they begin a lift loaded down enough, will simply "sidestep" the glutes, shoot the hips up and finish the lockout with the lumbar. This begs the question of what you mean by "position" since the position you put someone in doesn't "force" their body to fire in a certain way.

I don't understand the point you are trying to make about cyclists doing lunges. Getting a trainee sore glutes from a bunch of lunges does not prove that they weren't using their glutes only that they are using them in a novel enough way, and in the case of the lunge, the loaded eccentric would be apt to induce DOMS in a cyclist who wasn't used to lunges.

It is a very common scenario to run into a trainee who has a very hard time differentiating lumbar from hips. It is difficult for them to "isolate" the two without some in between intervention. The floor based exercises are not absolutely necessary but they are a useful remedial measure.

As far as studies and such, it is not a simple matter of combing pubmed looking for studies to "back things up". This is an interdisciplinary area and yes, this is theory, not fact, much of which is based on experience and observation.

To the people asking for studies, just exactly what kind of studies do you think would be necessary for you to be shown? What population? What methods? I doubt that any one study, or several, would amount to "gluteal amnesia exists because X".

Anonymous said...

Oh it's not bs. Turn me around and I'm a back with a crack. Seriously. I gain weight and I'm a wider back with a crack. I have no glutes and I have back pain. The problem with this exercise is that my 'butt' muscles tend to get locked in sort of a spasm when I do this type of thing but I'm thinking of doing some gentle hip abductor exercises and work my way up.