The glute guide

Tags: Good Living
The glute guide
When we plan our exercise routine, we often tend to favour certain body parts and exercises thinking they focus on our priority areas and contribute to our looking and feeling better. More often than not, we overlook important muscles as we don’t realise their importance. One of the most crucial yet overlooked muscles are gluteus medius. In the human body, there are three gluteal muscles that form the buttocks. They are the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. But the muscles I would like to focus on are the gluteus medius.

So what is the function of this muscle? The gluteus medius originates from the crest of the pelvis and inserts into the thigh bone. When the leg is straight, this muscle abducts the thigh, that is, pulls the thigh away from the midline. During walking, it functions to support the body on one leg, to prevent the pelvis from dropping to the opposite side. Additionally, when the hip is flexed, the gluteus medius internally rotate the thigh. With the hip extended, the muscle externally rotates the thigh.

If one’s gluteus medius are weak, it can lead to a multitude of problems — the thigh adducts and internally rotates excessively, the knee falls into a valgus position, the tibia internally rotates relative to the foot leading to long term issues like shin splints or Achilles tendinitis, structural overload to the lumbar spine, sacroiliac joint, hip and knee — and may cause excessive wear and tear at several joints.

There are many exercises you can do to make sure your glutes are strong and able to bear the load they were designed to like squats, one legged squats, and walking lunges among others. Two uncommon exercises that target your gluteal muscles are: Lying forward leg lift and straight leg side plank

Lying forward leg lift engages your hip abductors as well as secondary muscles below the knee. Lie on your side with your bottom leg bent and top leg extended in front of you at a right angle to your torso. Keep your top knee soft, with hips stacked, and try not to rock back on your bottom hip as you lift your leg. Turn your toe slightly down towards the ground as you extend and lift your leg. When the leg is a little higher than your hip, pause and then lower it and raise for 10 to 20 repetitions. Repeat the sequence on the opposite leg for the same number of repetitions.

Not only is the side plank an effective exercise for toning your gluteus medius, it is also excellent for the rest of your gluteals and obliques. Position yourself on a mat on your right elbow with your body in one straight line. Place your left leg directly on top of your right leg with your feet placed one on top of the other. Your bottom or right hip and knee should be resting on the mat with your upper torso lifted. Exhale, contract your abdominal and slowly raise your hip and knee off the ground until you are propped up only on your elbow and the lower part of your leg. Hold the lifted plank position for three to five seconds, then lower your hip back to the mat. Repeat for two to three more sets. Change to your left side and repeat the sequence.

Adding focus on your gluteas medius will not only help you tone your butt but also help ensure that your posture and mobility are not affected.

(The author is a wellness expert and runs a fitness centre in New Delhi)

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