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Bad Glutes...

Updated: Jun 8, 2023

Ah the causes of pain are numerous... If you've read a few of my posts now, you know that pain is complex. When your pain is chronic, there are many factors contributing to your pain experience.

Amber in Little Bridge Pose

So why do so many medical and physical therapists blame one muscle? If you have low back pain, there is a strong chance that at some point someone has told you that your glutes are the reason why you have back pain. So you train for that muscle and you do start feeling better, why is that? And why then am I here telling you that that isn't the case?

First, you feel better because you are now moving your body, you are giving your joints, muscles, ligaments the love that they need. Sure, you are just training 'one' muscle, but you need more than just your glutes to do all of those exercises.

Second, there is NO evidence that one muscle is the main factor to chronic pain. From my perspective... when I was in the depths of my back pain I had a physiotherapist tell my Dr. that my glutes were weak, and yet I was able to get on my bike weekly and push over 300 watts in a sprint. Those are not weak glutes.

Finally, when the glutes are actually weak, it is often from a movement pattern that was caused by the back pain rather than the weak glutes causing the back pain. Make sense? Think about walking, while your leg travels under and behind you, that is your glute working while your femur (thigh bone) connects with movement through your pelvis into your lower back, which in turn creates a stable small lumbar curvature (extension) in your lower back (I know, that was a good chunk of anatomy). When your back hurts, the last thing you often want to do is stand up straight and have a solid walking stride. So you lean forward just a bit, this small movement pattern of compensation will adjust how much stability is now needed from your glutes (which is a lot less). Walk this way for a few months and yes, your glute will weaken. So did that weak glute cause your back pain?

Now... what is the answer?

'Can't go wrong getting strong.' is what Adam Meakins always says. He is a physio out of the UK and is keen on giving people honest, simple advice... sometimes with a swear word here or there.

Man lifting kettlebell from a squat

So, find something that is meaningful to you and start working toward it. That doesn't mean doing 20 bridges a day and core exercises that bore you. It means start working with someone (like me, but I am bias) that will help you build your path toward meaningful goals and loved activities that you've been missing!

Thank you for reading and learning more to live your best life!


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