Strong Booty, Strong Back
With back issues at an all time high, people are looking more often to alternative solutions rather than the traditional route of
surgeries and drugs. Finding and engaging the muscles of the core to help stabilize the spine is becoming common practice the world over. This awareness is a vital piece of the overall wellness and care of the spine, but it is only one part of the puzzle. The often overlooked piece or that many people don’t relate to both stabilizing and mobilizing the torso are the glutes or your “booty”. People were on the right track with the old saying “Lift with your legs, not your back”, however, the glutes are often disassociated from the leg. As Pilates instructors, our job is all about teaching movement, we’re often referred to as movement specialists. This means that it’s our responsibility to teach proper awareness, engagement and movement patterns. Many people have a disconnect relating to this area, it is an important area to focus on and understand.
Once a mind-muscle connection to the glutes has been
established, we then begin to work on getting them to work properly and consistently. With some clients this is not an easy task as many people are now working in jobs that don’t require them to stand or move very much. This more sedentary lifestyle tends to lead to under use of the glutes and more quad dominance. To correct this we first educate the client on the proper firing pattern, then ingrain it into their mind and body with repetitions of various exercises.
A proper firing pattern is the sequence in which the muscles fire
in order to achieve a specific motion. Having this correct order of
operations in the glutes leads to more efficient recruitment when
using them to either mobilize or stabilize, or both, in turn taking the strain off of the much smaller spinal extensors that are in many cases overused. This will dramatically reduce the risk of lumbar strains and injuries. Pilates teaches the body to do this along with returning or bringing the body to a more neutral state.
A large part of poor biomechanics and improper recruitment of
the hip extensors can be directly attributed to improper posture and poor alignment of the pelvis. A common issue is excessive posterior tilt of the pelvis, or a “tucked under” stance. Correcting this allows more freedom of movement through the lumbo-sacral junction which in turn helps to facilitate better use of the glutes. It will also help to open up the sacro-illiac joint, which is very often a major trouble spot because of the nerve bundle running from the brain, all the way down the spine, through the S.I. joint and down to the legs. This one spot can be responsible for a variety of nerve related pain directly above and/or below it.
What This Means For The Client
As I’ve tried to explain here, it is critical to any client to have the
ability to correctly use the glutes in their
workouts, and in their day-to-day life. Although this can be a daunting task, it is also a very rewarding
undertaking. This results in not only giving them
ability to perform more difficult and complex exercises, but in all around better quality of life outside the studio, which is what we
should all strive to do and the reason Pilates was conceived in the