For many people, the only reason to give the glutes a workout is for the aesthetic benefit. But as great as it would be if we could all look like Kim Kardashian, there are actually many health benefits to keeping your glutes in shape. They are the largest muscle group in the body, consisting of the Gluteus Minimus, Gluteus Medius, and the well-known Gluteus Maximus. These muscles play a vital role in how we walk, run, stand, sit… basically they are always doing something important. For this reason, having healthy glutes is important in maintaining good health in other areas of your body, the most important of which we will look at below.
We have talked before about how sitting can affect your body in a whole host of ways. Sitting in a slouched position will make it harder for you to breathe, which affects your air intake, which in turn makes you tired and more easily distracted. Sitting too far forward, back, or to one side can place particular muscles under undue pressure, which can cause them to stiffen up and lead to pain. By working out your glutes, you can provide the base of your spine with a good cushion, which will also help stabilise your hips and guide you naturally into the proper position, preventing pain in the neck, lower back, and surrounding muscles.
You probably wouldn’t associate your glutes with knee pain, but the human body is a highly interconnected machine, and being particularly weak or strong in one area of the body can have surprisingly powerful effects on other, seemingly unrelated areas. As mentioned above, having healthy glutes can help stabilise your hips. On the flipside, if your hips are unstable, this will have an effect on how you walk, and may cause your knees to sway from side to side to compensate, which can cause damage and lead to pain. The ankles will also be affected by this, but not to the same extent as the knees.
The impact that the health of your glutes has on your level of athletic ability cannot be overstated. Your glutes play an essential role in helping you balance, change direction, run, stop, and jump, which pretty much covers all major sports. People with strong, healthy glutes will find that they can run faster, jump higher, and carry out more complex manoeuvers than their less glute-conscious competitors, so focusing on this area is a great way to take your skill to the next level in almost any sport.
The Trendelenberg test is a simple way for you to evaluate how healthy your glutes are. To do this, simply stand up straight, and lift up one of your legs as though you were going to hop. The more difficult it is for you to keep your hips level, the more you need to work on your glutes. If you do this and find that you could stand to improve your glutes, there are lots of easy exercises to do so, such as barbell squats, lunges, and hip thrusts. To learn more about which exercises can help you achieve the glutes of your dreams, have a look at these tips from Men’s Health.