Last week we talked about having tight glutes instead of weak ones. This is one way your glutes might not be working as well as they could.
Another possibility is that they are inhibited by other muscles.
Muscles work in pairs (in anatomy jargon they are called the agonist and antagonist). When one muscle is working (known as the agonist) the antagonist muscle (the “opposite” muscle) needs to relax. This is an important concept – otherwise we wouldn’t move at all!
If we have sensory motor amnesia (when muscles are contracted and we don’t know) then this can prevent other muscles from working properly.
The antagonist muscles to the glutes are the hip flexors. If the hip flexor muscles are tight and cannot relax fully, then that means the glutes cannot contract fully. Being tight in the front of the hips is a very common reason that the glutes feel “weak”. When this happens you are probably stuck in what we call the “Red Light Reflex” – the reflex of protection, slouching (think computer work), and worry, and fear.
1. Stand up and take a walk around. How easy is it to extend your legs backwards in walking? Does the front of your hip feel open when the leg goes behind you?
2. Lie down and do this hip flexor release movement
3. Stand up and walk around again. How does it feel now to extend the leg backwards? Is it easier to feel your glutes engaging?
Let us know how it goes!