Our Massage therapist Nancy on Glute Function and Facts:
As a Pilates instructor I cannot stress enough the joys of having strong and capable glutes! They are probably (next to the core) my favourite muscle group not only to exercise but to rehab as well.
First and foremost the glutes make up part of the biggest muscle group of the body, they act as major stabilisers of the pelvis and upper body, whilst also being the strongest of your hip extensors.
The glute complex is made up of Gluteus Maximus; most important for the general act of walking, plus they are used for explosive power in athletic performance (things like running, jumping etc) and of course being the strongest of the muscles working on extending the hips.
Gluteus Medius and Minimus are the smaller and (to me) the more important when it comes to pelvic stability and core strength (hello Pilates again!!) These are the ones that help keep the pelvis in alignment, so if these muscles are not working properly you can often see problems in hip stability and function. The muscles overlap each other laterally to the pelvis and work to help in hip abduction but they also have fibres which assist in other pelvic movements – so great hips stabilisers. Research suggests these muscles also have subsections within them that assist in hip rotation when walking.
Which of course leads us into discussing the smaller deep muscles of the gluteal region, our “deep lateral rotators” where the piriformis (that pesky muscle which is often times involved in sciatica – often not always), obturators, plus a few more, make an appearance. These muscles work to rotate the femur which helps give the hip joint that full and wonderful range of motion, not as big a ROM as the shoulder but still amazing.
When it comes to exercising the glutes, we have to take into account the pure size of the muscles we are working – they can take a lot of weight – remember to balance them out with opposing exercises for the hip flexors too!