You’ve heard of amnesia but maybe never heard of gluteal amnesia. This term refers to the inhibition and delayed activation of the gluteal muscles, which in time leads to weakness of these muscles. Gluteal inhibition negatively affects lower body strength and is a root cause for many injuries and chronic pain. Low back pain and lower body injuries result in delayed and reduced gluteal activation with the flow on effect of hamstring and low back compensation.
Our extremely sedentary lifestyle that consists of us driving to work, sitting down all day at work and then relaxing at home by sitting on the lounge has caused the glutes to almost always be asleep. Have you ever felt your glutes be sore after a workout? Most likely not as we have developed such complex compensation patterns that targeting them is becoming increasingly challenging.
This perfectly explains the association between low back pain and the inhibition of the gluteus maximus .The activation of the gluteus maximus during hip extension is delayed in people with a history of low back pain compared to people with no back pain. In people with low back pain hip extension is initiated by the hamstrings and erector spinae instead of the gluteus maximus. Even after the low back pain has resolved, the altered firing patterns in the gluteus maximus remain.
Reduced activation of the gluteus maximus isn’t only for those with low back pain. Ankle sprain injuries also have been shown to have reduced activation levels of the gluteus maximus. This can then result in residual low back pain and more altered muscular firing patterns to compensate for the reduced stability of the ankle. This will refer up the chain to the knee, hip and then low back. This chain can also start from the top with poor posture that includes a forward head position, rounded shoulders and reduced lordotic arch then causes low back pain and reduced firing of the glutes.
In the case of low back pain, ankle and probably all lower body injuries, rehabilitation needs to focus on re-activating the gluteal muscles. Many people focus on “fixing” the actual injury site where we need to look at weak or delayed activation of the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius as a root cause for many injuries and chronic pain.
Common injuries that we tend to look at the injury site rather than the biomechanics and firing patterns such as hamstring strains due to weak synergists, anterior knee pain due to the excess internal rotation of the femur and anterior hip pain due to incased anterior rotation of the femur in the acetabulum. Lower body misalignment results due to the weak flutes resulting in increased internal rotation of the femur, knee valgus and pronated feet.
If you have suffered or are currently managing any of the above mentioned injuries or syndromes, its time to book in for a specific strengthening program to stop the cycle of pain maybe it has a direct relationship to the strength of your butt? Lets get you back injury free and enable you to live life to the fullest.