Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just say "No" to gluteal amnesia

Gluteal Amnesia.  Yup, it's a thing.  Sure, it's not strictly the most technical term ever used, but it is very, very real.  Your glutes may have forgotten how to contract and function properly.  The fact is that many of us spend a lot of our time sitting on our glutes, keeping them partially stretched while we mash the layers of muscles together.  This takes it tough for them to get unstuck from one another, and since they stay somewhat lengthened for long stretches, they can wind up neurologically inhibited, too.  And getting the glutes to fire isn’t exactly like riding a bike…you don’t just hop back on and get going again.  In fact, training (or retraining) neuropathways and movement patterns always takes some time.  Keeping them active and efficient is a good deal easier.  You may be thinking that if you can stand up and walk up and down stairs you are A-OK.  You might even be thinking "Hey, I can squat plenty more than enough, how could my glutes not be working right?"  But the body is remarkable and will figure out how to get you through your squats, even inefficiently.

One of the most common gluteal muscles to shut off is the gluteus medius.  As Murphy's Law would have it, the glute medius happens to be quite a multi-tasker, aiding in external rotation and extension of the hip, as well as assisting the IT Band.  So, a misfiring glute medius can have ill effects on your running (contributing to some knee pains), it can weaken your squats, and compromise your agility and stability.

What's say we take a look at ways to wake this guy up and integrate it back into your bigger movement patterns, shall we?

The basic premise here is going to be for you to use a foam roller to settle down any muscles that are overactively compensating, and jumping the gun, taking over before glute medius can activate.
Then you'll work to isolate glute medius, establishing a specific neuropathway for the glute medius.
Then you'll do larger, more integrated movements, allowing that neuropathway to get "real world" practice at firing the glute medius up appropriately.  There are certainly more than one ways that this could be tailored to address the specific compensation and movement patterns you actually utilize, but the following video will give you a great place to start.  If you spend most of your days at a desk, you should really try incorporating this 2-3x week, ideally as a part of your warmup.

At the very least, if you're a desk jockey, you should really be making a point of getting up and moving about throughout the day (5 minutes, every half hour is ideal).  Failing to do so could be shutting down your glutes and causing plenty of other issues in your hips and low back.  Why keep making things worse?

If you are a runner, or are experiencing knee pain, then try not foam rolling your IT Band.

Got something similar, but don't know how to go about addressing it?  Feel free to email me, and we can tackle it together!