Most of the people go to the gym to take care of their bodies, putting extra effort in the muscles that show (such as the chest, arms, abs etc.). Unfortunately, it is common that many people forget to pay attention on the functionality of the body.
A common muscle group that is forgotten in terms of functionality, is the gluteal muscles.
Why this is so common with the glutes? Maybe it´s because of the saying “out of sight out of mind” or maybe it’s because we don’t know much about why it is one of our body´s most important muscle groups!
Most people work on the gluteus maximus. However, the gluteus muscle group is a complex group of muscles that require strength in many different positions, ranges and contraction types!
The gluteus maximus is the biggest one of the 3 gluteus muscles, giving the bottom its shape, as well as working as a strong hip extensor but contributing also to hip external rotation.
Glutes medius is the main stabiliser of the pelvis in any weight bearing positions and situations.
The gluteus minimus assists surrounding muscles with hip rotation.
Together as a group the gluteals provide strength and stability to the pelvis and lower body. Due to this, several lower extremity musculoskeletal injuries are often related with gluteal weakness. For instance, patella femoral pain and hip impingement, moreover some studies have demonstrated that athletes who sustained lower extremity injuries on competition had weaker hip external rotators and abductors. Interesting, hey?!
There are several exercises hat are commonly used to strengthen the glutes, such as bridges, leg kicks, etc. Something to keep in mind when performing these gluteal exercises is that whilst working the glutes there is a simultaneous activation of Tensor Fascia Lata and/or the IT Band, which produce the opposite movement and exacerbate abnormal movement patterns by increasing hip internal rotation.
A study of Lewis et al in 2018 analysed one of the most common gluteal exercises: the lateral side stepping with an elastic band around the legs for more resistance. This exercise could have a lot of variations, from the amount of knee and hip flexion adopted, to the placement of the band around the legs, so they studied the amount of gluteal activation in different positions and band locations!
Their results concluded that gluteus medius activity was approximately 25% higher with the band placed around the ankles than around the knees and furthermore the activity was approximately 40% higher with the band placed around the feet than around the knees.
Thanks to this conclusion we now have better evidence to use whilst prescribing exercises for our patients’ rehab routines, or when and how how to achieve a good progression of the exercises, increasing the load of the muscle in a healthy way.
Find these banded exercises on our Instagram page to start or complement your workouts!