The Gluteus: 3 Stretches and 3 Strengthening Exercises

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The Gluteus muscle group is made up of 3 main muscles: Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus.

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Gluteus Maximus is the biggest muscle in the human body and is responsible for extension and outward rotation of the hip. It is also the main muscle that evolved to allow us to walk upright and become bipedal!

Gluteus Medius sits under your lower back towards the outside of the pelvis and it responsible for abduction (moving the leg away from the midline of the body) and internal rotation of the leg. It is often one of the main sources of lower back pain and can mimic sciatic pain.

Gluteus Minimus lies directly under the Gluteus Medius and performs similar actions. Together Gluteus Medius and Minimus help to stabilize the hip and pelvis when the opposite leg it lifted off the ground.

Movements of the Gluteals

When we run, the Gluteus help hold the pelvis level, extend the hip, propel us forward, and keep the torso, pelvis, and legs aligned. If the Gluteus are weak, the kinetic chain can be thrown off and cause knee pain, Plantar Fasciitis, and Iliotibial band syndrome, to name a few. The Gluteus muscles can also become weak and tight from prolonged periods of sitting and underuse.

Here are a few examples of stretching and strengthening exercises you can do following activity or at the end of a long day of sitting.

Stretching Exercises for the Gluteals

Pigeon Pose

Begin on all fours on a yoga mat. Bring your right knee to your right wrist and your right foot to the left wrist. Your shin will be either perpendicular to the front of your mat (90 degrees) or towards the groin (45 degrees), depending on your flexibility. Extend your left leg and foot out behind you and activate the Gluteus on this side. You can support yourself on your hands or bring your forearms to the mat in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Repeat on other side.

Lizard Lunge

Begin on all fours. Step your right foot to the outside of your right hand so your toes are in line with your fingers. Your right knee should be bent at 90 degrees and your shoulder and arm should be beside your shin. Keeping your palms flat on the ground, use your arm and shoulder to push your right leg outward while activating the outer portion of your right foot and Gluteus. There should be no movement of the leg or arm (eccentric contraction). Hold for 15 seconds, release, and let your hip sink a little deeper. Repeat on other leg.

Knee to Opposite Shoulder

Lie on your back with your legs out in front of you. Lift you right leg and bend your knee into your chest. With your left hand, reach across your body and pull your right knee towards your left shoulder. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then repeat on other leg.

Strengthening Exercises for the Gluteals

Gluteus Bridge

Lie on your back, with our knees bent and your feet flat in the mat. Try to get your heels as close to the Gluteus as you can. Lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders are in a straight line. Squeeze your Gluteus and keep your abdomen tight. Hold the bridge for 5-10 seconds and lower slowly back to the ground. Repeat 5-10 times.

Clam Shell

Lie on your right side with your hips and feet stacked, and your knees bent at 90 degrees. Keep your abdomen engaged and your feet together and raise your left knee as far as you can without rotating your hip or lifting your right knee off the floor. Squeeze your Gluteus and hold for 2 seconds. Slowly lower your left knee back to starting position. Complete 10-15 reps and repeat on other side. You can also add a resistance band above both knees for extra strengthening benefit.

Donkey Kick

Start on all fours and set your spine in a neutral position. Keeping your knee bent, lift your knee so your thigh is in line with your spine, and your foot remains flexed. Make sure to squeeze with your Gluteus and keep your spine neutral. Let your leg come slowly back to the mat. Complete 10-20 reps on each side.

These stretches can help open up your hips and lengthen your Gluteus, while the exercises can help strengthen your Gluteus and support your hips, pelvis, and lower back. Preventative care along with regular massage can help alleviate Gluteus pain and help your running game stay strong!


This article/video is for educational purposes only; do not attempt without your physician’s clearance. If you are in pain or injured, see your physician.
Copyright © Vidal Sports LLC 2020


Copyright © Vidal Sports LLC 2020
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