Can’t run as fast as you’d like? Or jump as high as you want to? Are you throwing (a baseball, football, javelin, or even shooting a basketball) far enough?
If not, there’s a good chance you’re “gluteless.”
What do I mean by this? Simply: your glutes are the largest and most powerful set of muscles in your body. They are designed precisely to help us run, jump and throw. And, yes, I mean throw. Sure arm, shoulder, back and core strength are essential for a powerful throw. But without legs you got squat! Actually, without strong legs you can’t squat either (but that’s a story for a different time). And what’s the most important part of getting powerful legs? You guessed it: glutes! No other muscle group has as much impact on your athletic performance.
“Pretty much all sports and every type of activity are predicated on appropriate glute function,” says Dr. Joel Seedman, an exercise physiologist and owner of AdvancedHumanPerformance.com
“For example, the No. 1 muscle in sprinting is the glutes. If they’re not firing like they should, it’s not only going to put the athlete at a greater potential for injury, but it’s really going to compromise their speed.”
“The glutes and also the hamstrings are critical for maintaining optimal balance between the front and back of the leg,” Seedman says. “If you have an imbalance from glute inactivity, it’s inevitably goi ng to result in some type of knee pain.”
So, how do you know if you’re “gluteless?” Check out the following self-tests from Seedman:
How to Check if Your Glutes are Firing Properly
1. Do you have knee pain? Chronic knee pain is the first sign of glute inactivity. If your knees consistently hurt—especially when you are playing a sport or working out—your glutes are probably the
2. Do you have lower-back pain? Lower-back pain is another sign that your glutes aren’t working properly. Typically, these muscles compensate for inactive glutes, causing overuse and pain. However, even if you don’t have lower -back pain, you might have glute issues.
3. Do you sit a lot? Most of us sit way too much. It’s a product of modern society. Sitting causes the muscles on the front of your body to tighten, creating anterior pelvic tilt. Too much anterior pelvic tilt and your glutes can no longer properly fire.
4. Can you hold a Single -Leg Stand? Do a Single-Leg Stand with your eyes closed and your feet facing forward. If you can’t hold this position for at least 1 minute —and especially if you fall forward and toward the middle—your glutes aren’t working properly. Test each side a few times and compare your average times to see if one side is working better than the other.
You can also ask yourself if you are running, jumping and throwing as well as you’d like. If not, chances are you’re “gluteless.”
Strengthening your glutes is probably the single most important thing you can do to become more competitive, more powerful, prevent injuries, and reduce existing knee and lower back pain.