Gluteal Amnesia, though sounds silly, affects a large percent of the American population. If you suffer from back, hip, knee or shoulder pain you could be one of the many who lack proper gluteal activation.
Why does gluteal amnesia occur
Gluteal Amnesia is when your body forgets how to activate the gluteal muscles properly. The average adult is sedentary for 64% of the time they are awake due to the overwhelming majority of adults working a desk job that require almost no physical activity. Because of this sedentary lifestyle, our muscles are not working as much as they should be, in particular our gluteal muscles. This is detrimental to the whole body because the glutes are the strongest and largest muscle in the body. Excessive sitting lengthens the gluteal muscles and tightens the hip flexors which leads to decreased stabilizing function and overall gluteal weakness. Beyond excessive sitting, gluteal amnesia can also occur because of the overworking of your quadriceps, a previous injury, poor core strength, improper body mechanics and poor posture such as an anterior pelvic tilt.
How gluteal amnesia contributes to injury
There are a number of injuries that are caused by weak gluteal muscles, here are the three most common:
Hamstring strains: The over activation of the hamstring occurs because the glute is not firing properly during hip extension. This puts too much pressure on the hamstring causing a strain.
Low back pain: The gluteus maximus plays a crucial role in the stabilization of the pelvis and spine. Weak glutes cause your lower back muscles to pick up the slack. Because your glutes are not doing some of the work, your back will suffer.
Knee pain: Glute weakness creates excessive rotation of the femur which puts too much pressure on the knee. Knee injury examples due to weak glutes: Iliotibial band syndrome and ACL injuries.
Symptoms of gluteal amnesia
Correcting gluteal amnesia
In order to correct gluteal amnesia, you need to retrain your gluteal muscles to activate properly. One way to reverse gluteal amnesia is to warm up your glutes prior to your workout. Before your workout do 5-10 minutes of glute specific exercise such as gluteal bridges, clamshell exercise and donkey kicks. This will activate and wake up your glutes so they are ready to be used during your workout. Self-myofasical release can also help with gluteal activation. Use a lacrosse ball or foam roller to help loosen your over activated muscles i.e. hamstrings, hip flexors and lower back muscles. This will allow for your glutes to activate more easily.
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