I hope you aren't too comfortable, as you won't be sitting for long after reading this article! Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is causing our bodies to get weaker and important muscle groups are becoming lazy.
In a true case of 'use it or lose it', muscles that we don't use atrophy, become hard to isolate or activate and have their function replaced by other muscle groups and therefore creating muscle imbalances.
One of the most commonly affected muscle groups are the gluts, or buttocks, essential in the maintenance of pelvic stability and prevention of injury. Gluts are possibly the laziest muscles we have, so we need to make them a priority in our training or we face annoying injuries and niggles until they are 'fixed'.
Pelvic stability, like core stability, is a term that is catching on quickly in the fitness industry.
Previously it has been a well-kept secret that Pilates is one of the best forms of exercise to increase and target pelvic stability and is something that is sought by athletes in the vast majority of sports.
Your gluts in conjunction with a strong mid-section (abs and back), are the key to pelvic stability. However, not too many people actually understand how to develop that stability correctly. If you aren't training specifically, you could be worsening the muscle imbalance and find yourself out of action due to injury more often than not.
Take this test to see how your gluts stack up:
Stand on one leg in front of a mirror.
What happens to the rest of your body? Do you lose balance? Does the hip on your standing leg dip down? Or shift up? Or stick out to one side?
If you haven't fallen over already, poke into the top corner of your butt, just under the belt-line. Can you feel any sort of muscle contraction happening in there?
No problems so far? Then, squat up and down a few times on the supporting leg, then hop. Does your knee roll in, or does your ankle roll in, or worse, do you fall over and lose balance? Can you feel those muscles working in the top corners of your butt?
Quick now check the other side? Are you 'even' or is one side weaker than the other?
If you've answered yes to any of these, we need to talk more about your gluts. Even if you've answered no, you should continue reading.
So what are the gluts and why are they so important? And how on earth can they cause shin splints?
The gluts consist of 3 muscles, gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. Today, in the interests of understanding pelvic stability, we are going to concentrate on the most lazy muscle, the gluteus medius (or glut med, now that we are becoming experts on the topic).
The glut med runs from the top ridge at the back of the pelvis to the hip. The bulk of the muscle, can be best felt just above the hip bone, when performing the active movements of hip abduction (raising leg out to side) or hip external rotation (turning the knee out to the side).
It also works, as mentioned during the test described above, during the stability phase of standing ie. On the supporting hip when you are standing on one leg. So, if you think about it, by raising one leg out to the side while you are standing, you are working both gluts one in an active movement sense, and one in a stability sense.
When the gluts are weak, other muscles such as the quads, ITB, hip flexors and even the lats can become overactive. If you are performing an activity such as running or cycling, which requires muscular endurance, with weak gluts, you might be familiar with niggling back pain, knee pain, or shin splints.
Everyone's body is different, so if you're unsure if your gluts are weak and if regular glut stability training can help you it's recommended that you have an individual Pilates or physiotherapy assessment and diagnosis. In most cases everyone's gluts can do with some strengthening and by strengthening the gluts you will find significant pain relief, improved performance, better posture and finally, a great body for summer. Try our Brazilian Butt Toner DVD to improve your glut stability, enhance your running and blast your butt