A stronger backside can help decrease your pain.
It’s no fun being in pain. It stops us from doing the things we love and from enjoying everyday life. However, more often than not, we feel pain and think the solution will come from the same area the pain does. The truth is that this is not always the case.
The body is a kinetic chain. This means that our movement is all connected. Think of the fun song when you were a kid “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone”. Basically, it is the understanding that within our movement system, the way one joint works and moves would affect how the connecting joints work and move as well.
Think of your legs and glutes as the foundation to your body. For instance, they help your spine and hips twist or externally rotate. Both of these things are often used when walking, swinging a golf club, or other areas of everyday life, like picking up your kids.
All of these movements require help from surrounding muscles, and in the case of feeling knee or back pain, specifically the glutes. Often times, we feel pain because our muscles are out of balance. If we have weak glute muscles, the back and the knees have to do all the work and that is often what leads to pain or injury.
So, by strengthening the gluteal muscles, we can help protect the back and knees and stop the pain. Figuring out that the glutes are the out of balance muscle means we want to learn to strengthen it.
The three muscles that make up the glutes are the Gluteus maximus, Gluteus medius, and Gluteus minimus. Today we will highlighting 4 exercises that will help you strengthen these muscles and help alleviate knee and lower back pain.
4 bodyweight exercises to strengthen your glutes
Always wait for pain to subside before starting any exercise. If you feel any pain stop and look for modifications or a different exercise. For each move make sure to activate your glutes by flexing/squeezing your butt. Perform all movements slowly and with control.
Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Slowly lift your hips off the floor and squeeze your glutes (your butt) to activate the glutes. Lift them as high as you can without overarching your back. Pause for 1-2 seconds at the top and then slowly lower back to the ground. Repeat 10-20 more times.
Lying leg raises (abductors)
Lay on your side in a straight line. Let your head rest in your hand or on your arm. Flex the foot and using your glutes, lift your leg up into the air. Try not to tip forward or backward while doing this. Slowly lift up while focusing on using the side of your butt (gluteus medius) to lift the leg. Lower and repeat 10-20 times on each side.
Still lying on your side, bend your knees slightly as if curling into the fetal position. You don’t want your knees to your chest but a little lower than your hips. Keeping your feet stacked on top of each other, slowly lift the top knee up, again using an activating the gluteus muscle to do so. Slowly lower the top knee to meet the bottom knee and repeat. 10-20 times on each side.
Lying Donkey Kicks
Laying on your stomach, bend one leg at the knee so the foot is in the air directly over the knee. Slowly lift the knee off the floor. You are trying to isolate and use only the glute muscles here and not the lower back. Pause for a moment at the top and slowly lower back to the ground. Repeat 10-20 times on each side.
Practice these bodyweight exercises daily to begin strengthening your glute muscles. As you get stronger you can add in a band for resistance and try new weighted exercises as well.
In the end, you may not have to live with back or knee pain. Take the time to strengthen the correct muscles that will protect against further injury and pain. Even if you don’t currently suffer from knee or back pain, strengthening your glutes is still very important. Preventive medicine and exercise are what helps us stay healthy and strong in the long run.
Watch Meaghan demonstrating the exercises to strengthen your glutes.
Author: Meaghan is an outdoor enthusiast who found her passion while traveling Europe. A Certified Holistic Health Coach and NASM Certified Personal Trainer, she specializes in guiding men and women to transition from autopilot to intuitive eating and exercise by focusing on the mind-body connection and self-love.