Why We Need Strong Buttocks to Prevent and Fix Back Pain
The gluteals (buttocks muscles) are a very important muscle group; they serve many functions in the stability of the lower back and pelvis. However, nowadays we spend more time sitting on our buttocks than actually using it.
In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, on average we are sitting at least 4 hours a day (usually watching television) and spending only 30 minutes doing some form of physical activity. That’s a total of 13 hours of watching TV per week!
One in three workers spend at least three-quarters of their time sitting. Office workers sit up to 23 hours per week compared to less than 4 for labourers.
Is it no wonder we see many people with back pain coming into our clinic. If we are all sitting for most of our day our bottoms are probably asleep!
To help you understand a little more, there are 3 layers of buttocks muscles. The smallest (Gluteus Minimus), medium (Gluteus Medius) and biggest (Gluteus Maximus). The three muscles are all intertwined and yet have different roles to play, overall they help support and stabilise your pelvis, hips and of course your spine.
Without proper use of these muscles we tend to be more inclined to injuries such as back pain, pelvic pain, hip pain and much more.
When we conduct our Full Body Assessment, we look at the entire human body and how one area affects another. One very common thing we see is poor gluteal strength and activation. This can be caused by many things such as previous injury, but the biggest contributing factor is our lifestyle.
In today’s society, we are sitting more then ever and when we are seated; our glutes (particularly Gluteus Maximus) is on constant stretch and not being used. This results in poor gluteal activation which leads to weakness and eventually injury.
If there is weakness throughout the gluteal muscles, we lose significant support for the lower back, pelvis and hips, causing increased loading on passive support structures such as bones and ligaments. Increased loading of these structures is the major cause for spinal injury. One such example is picking up a heavy object off the floor with poor technique. When you do this there is more compressive loading on your back and you are more likely to experience back pain.
One of our main focuses is to improve the strength of our glutes to prevent an injury. If you already have back pain, done worry it is never to late to strengthen your bottom, in fact it will be a major part of your rehabilitation.
Strong glutes should be the main focus for many people, but as always, you should be properly assessed by a qualified health professional such as a Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist or Sports Doctor for a tailored and specific strengthening program.
Most people perform exercise to improve strength, endurance, speed and power, but one element of fitness which is often overlooked is balance. Balance is a critical part of human movement from young children learning to walk, elite athletes performing difficult skills, to elderly people requiring balance to prevent falls.
Balance is affected by the complex interaction of the body’s sensorimotor control systems including proprioception (touch), vision (sight) and the vestibular system (motion, equilibrium, spatial orientation). Therefor, in order to improve balance it is necessary to train all 3 of these systems. The following set of exercises progresses from beginner, intermediate to advance and focuses on improving balance by challenging each of these sensorimotor systems both in isolation and together.
• Stand on one foot 30 secs • Stand two feet together on unstable surface 30 secs • Stand two feet together eyes closed 30 secs
• Stand on one foot throwing and catching a ball against a wall • Stand on one foot on unstable surface 30 secs • Stand on one foot eyes closed 30 secs
• Stand one foot, eyes closed on unstable surface 30 secs • Double leg squat on unstable surface • Single leg squat
Written by Jack Hickey Exercise Physiologist at MD Health
The SIJ is the joint between the lower segments of the spine, the sacrum, and the illium bone of the pelvis. The SIJ is given structural support by strong ligaments and muscular support gives the SIJ some degree of dynamic stability. Movements of the SIJ are subtle and can be confusing; however the main movements which occur at this joint are nutation and counter-nutation. Basically speaking, nutation refers to the top end of the sacrum tilting forward relative to the Illium and counter-nutation refers to the top end of the sacrum tilting backwards relative to the Illium.
What is Pelvic Instability?
Pelvic instability refers to uncontrolled counter-nutation of the SIJ. This puts direct stretch on the long dorsal ligament which is highly innervated with nerves and can cause pain often felt in the buttock and down the leg. The combined actions of several muscles are critical to achieve stability of the SIJ, including trasverse abdominus, multifidus, pelvic floor muscles, the gluteal muscles, latissimus dorsi, obliques and erector spinae. Weakness or poor neuromuscular recruitment of these muscles can cause sustained counter-nutation of the sacrum, increasing the risk of SIJ irritation.
Treating Pelvic Instability and SIJ Pain
Assessment to determine which muscles are deficient in stabilising the pelvis is critical for the treatment of SIJ pain. For acute SIJ pain, any exercise or movement which brings the sacrum into nutation should reduce pain. This includes SIJ mobilisations, stretching the hamstrings to inhibit them from pulling the sacrum into counter-nutation, taping across the SIJ or into nutation as well as traction in line of the SIJ to reduce stretch on the long dorsal ligament. Initially to achieve further pelvic stability, exercises to improve the strength and control of transverse abdominus are key. To then achieve dynamic control of the pelvis, strengthening the other muscles which stabilise the pelvis (Most commonly gluteus maximus and latissimus dorsi) is required.
Written By Jack Hickey Exercise Physiologist at MD Health Pilates
Demystifying Pilates – Why do we do a Full Body Assessment (FBA) before you start Pilates
At MD Health Pilates, we always start your Clinical or Personalised Pilates program with a Full Body Assessment. What this means is that we assess all your major body parts, starting with your neck, shoulders, back, pelvis, hips, knees and ankles so that each program can specifically and individually tailored to each individual.
Why is it so important to start a Pilates program with a Full Body Assessment ?
We are not able to customise a Clinical or Personalised Pilates program, without assessing each body part specifically. In particular, we need to know more about any injuries you describe (commonly back pain) and any underlying injuries that will affect your program, that you may not be aware of (very often we find knee pain such as PFJ injuries). This will make a big difference in whether the program will be effective or not
How was the Full Body Assessment developed ?
The Full Body Assessment was developed by looking at all the potential tests we could do for each major body part, summarising them and determining which combination of tests will allow us to determine all the major injuries that can affect each body part (roughly 190 tests). Over the last 10 years we have refined this process and as new research and technology has emerged, we have refined the process even further to be more accurate. We continue to further refine and improve this process.
What does a Full Body Assessment involve ?
It involves assessing 1) Posture ( as well as specific foot posture) 2) Neck 3) Thoracic Spine 4) Lower Back 5) Pelvis 6) Hips 7) Knees 8) Ankles The process takes 1 hour. After we finish testing, the physiotherapist/exercise physiologist will again analyse the results and determine any particular injuries present and write the program based on your goals, injuries, strengths and weaknesses