Sore back? Work the glutes! PART 1

The gluteal muscles (better known as your bottom muscles) play an important role in the stabilisation of the pelvis and support of the lower back. This helps the body remain balanced and stable whilst running, walking, climbing stairs and simply standing on the spot.

The problem is that for the majority of our day we sit; be it at work, driving, on the bus, watching a screen or sitting in a classroom. As a result our gluteal muscles are not used properly and begin to get lazy.

“Weakened glutes often leads to lower back pain.

Weakened glute muscles often leads to lower back pain. To prevent lower back pain, glute stretching and strengthening should be your first port of call for active self-management.

Try a stretch. Are you sitting down right now? Place one ankle over your knee and sit up straight. Need a little more? Lean forward hinging at the hips. It should look something like this:


So now you know what to do, how long do you hold and how often do you stretch? 45-60 seconds with 3 repetitions, 4 times per week. This will increase yours active range of movement by giving the muscle fibers enough time to adjust and release tension.

“…how often do you stretch? 45-60 seconds with 3 repetitions, 4 times per week.”

Note: If you experience nerve pinching, numbness or pins and needles of the foot, ease into the longer durations and consult a health professional for advice.

It’s now time to strengthen! First up you need to know if the muscle is working properly. This is known as muscle activation.  A common under activating glute muscle is the gluteus medius muscle. To test its activation, lie on your side on a bed or the floor, tuck your knees up so they are about 60 degrees at the hip. Keeping the hips still, open the knee hold for 1 second and return to the starting position.

Start with gluteus medius activation 3×12 daily for 2 weeks.

Repeat the knee openings 12 times for 3 sets (have a 30-60 second break in between). If you have considerable muscle burning then reduce the repetitions to 8 and build to 12 over the next 2 weeks.

Stay tuned for PART 2 – strengthening the glutes.

Written by, Gemma Conway, CCHN Exercise Physiologist