Yep! Today we’re talking all about BUTTS – and BACK PAIN.
Glutes, gluteals, buttocks, butt cheeks, fanny, tush or backside – whatever you prefer to call to call them. The glutes are SUPER important muscles. They serve as key stabilizers for the lower back, pelvis, hips and knees – all the way down to the ankle and foot.
Unfortunately, I see way too many people with what I like to call “gluteal amnesia”. Yes, amnesia! Because they have forgotten how to properly activate and use their gluteal muscles.
When muscles don’t get used, they become weak.
When muscles are weak, they don’t stabilize our joints or support us properly when we move and are active. Our bodies are very clever at finding ways to work around and compensate for any weakness, which is both GOOD and BAD.
Sometimes these compensations are helpful and can allow a tired, sore or injured muscle some time to rest and heal. But when these compensations become the new norm and the underlying weakness is not properly addressed, it can lead to more problems.
The compensating muscles will grow tired of doing their job AND the job of the weak muscles. The once helpful muscles will soon become overworked, which leads to muscle tension, alignment problems, more stress on your joints and other supportive structures. All of this leads to inflammation, irritation and pain.
Weakness in the gluteal muscles can cause the lower back muscles to compensate, which can lead to Back Pain. Glute weakness can also cause shifts in pelvic, hip, knee, ankle and/or foot alignment that can lead to pain or problems in one or more of these joints as well.
So again, the glutes are SUPER important muscles that should not be forgotten.
I bet you are wondering how someone develops “gluteal amnesia” or weakness?
Like most problems there can be multiple causes, but I see TWO very common contributors in a large percentage of my patients with Back Pain.
TOO MUCH SITTING and POOR POSTURE.
Sitting deactivates the glutes. They literally shut off when we sit. So, you can start to see how too much sitting eventually leads to “gluteal amnesia”.
The solution is simple – sit less and move more.
Invest in a sit-stand desk at work or at home and then use it. If you have a favorite TV program that you NEVER miss, get up off the couch at every commercial and move. Go for a short walk after lunch or dinner. Clean out that closet you’ve been meaning to organize.
Be creative and have fun. Just find ways to move more that feels right for you.
By the way…moving more also helps you manage your weight, improves your energy levels, improves digestion, helps improve sleep quality and manage stress…AND MORE!
Yep, taking care of your glutes can improve your health!
Poor posture alone can cause Back Pain, but common postural problems like slouching, overarching of the lower back, and standing or walking with a slight forward lean are all great ways to shut down the glutes.
For many, poor posture is simply a BAD HABIT that can be corrected and replaced with a GOOD HABIT…GOOD POSTURE.
There isn't anything mysterious or magical about it. It just takes awareness and lots of practice to improve your posture.
If you catch yourself slouching, correct it and sit up straight. If you have a habit of overarching your lower back, practice pulling your abs in and tucking your pelvis until your spine is a neutral position.
If you walk with a slight forward lean take notice that you are essentially “leading with your head and shoulders”. If you pay close attention, you’ll notice your legs muscles are doing all the work…not your glutes.
Instead think about “leading with your belly button”. You will instantly find yourself standing more upright with better posture – and your glutes will POP with every step.
Go ahead…stand up and try it right now!
Okay, maybe it is a little bit of magic when you consider how a simple shift like this can instantly activate your glutes.
It really can be that simple for a lot of people!
For others it can be a little more challenging. It depends on just how bad your “gluteal amnesia” is, how long you’ve had it and what else is contributing to your problem. The good news is the human body has an incredible capacity to restore muscle memory, rebuild strength, realign and re-balance itself with time, patience and proper guidance.
That’s exactly what we do. We help people figure out what’s causing their pain, understand why it hasn’t gone away yet and guide them through the steps to correct the problem and teach them what is needed to make sure the problem doesn’t keep coming back.
If you need some additional guidance, we’d be happy to answer any questions you have and help you decide if Physical Therapy is the right option for you, or if you may need to see another specialist first.
Just choose the option below that works best for you:
Click here if you’d like to arrange a time to “TALK TO A PT ON THE PHONE”.
Click here to request a “FREE DISCOVERY VISIT” if you prefer to meet with a PT in person. This option gives you the opportunity to come in to see our clinic, meet the staff and be certain our clinic is a good fit for you before you commit to anything. It also gives us the opportunity to do a quick screening to get a better idea of what’s wrong and what it will take to fix the problem.
Or just give us a call at 503-744-0046…if you call after hours leave a message and we’ll return your call as soon as possible.
"Helping active adults overcome persistent aches, pains and injuries, so they can get back to the activities they love and improve their health naturally - without pain medication, injections or surgery."
Oregon City, OR
Dr. Julie Krueger