I have a confession. I’m obsessed with your buttocks. More specifically the muscles of your buttocks, which are known as your Glutes. It’s all for the best reasons, you understand. It’s just that they are so important to supporting your body and being pain free.
The glutes comprise of 3 muscles the Maximus, Medius and Minimus. The glutes connect with the muscles of the lower back and leg. For example, if you activate your glute you will also be activating the muscle that support the spine on the same side. Movements created by the glutes include rotating the thigh at the hip and taking the leg out to the side and behind the body. They are also responsible for keeping the pelvis level (stable) when standing on one leg and walking.
Despite their importance in our movement the glutes are very susceptible to becoming limited in the jobs they do (inhibited). Factors such and prolonged periods of sitting and postural adaptations cause changes in the length of the muscles which inhibit their ability to work. For example, when sitting for prolonged periods the hip flexors (opposite muscles to the glutes) become shortened and stiff, which inhibits the glutes from working effectively. So, when in a standing position, if the glutes are inhibited the muscles of the back of the leg and lower leg have to compensate to maintain an upright position, which could cause other joint problems and the knee and shoulder. A posture that puts the hips forward of the feet also ‘de-activate’ the glutes and narrows the space in the lower back causing irritation on the joints and potential discomfort.
In Modern Pilates we focus on engagement of the glutes in different postures to ensure that they are active when required and able to support our movement, without causing compensations and irritation to surrounding muscles and boney structures.