Gluteal Medius and Maximus Activation

Welcome back from a summer which showed that you must make the most of what you have and to experience life in all types of ways. Such was the case on the West Coast of Sweden this summer. I enjoyed, running in the rain, cycling in the rain, crossfit in the rain and even swimming in the rain…. ah, what a lovely summer!

However, after a summer of competitions for a lot of my clients, it has come to my attention on a number of people, even the fit and strong, the Gluteus maximus and gluteal medius are not performing the way the should.

A bit of research has shown to me that the flow on affect of a inactive ‘glut max and med’ is very real in many little pains in other joints or muscles. For example, the hamstrings will take too much load, the ankle joint or calf in running, the hip flexors in stabilisation and balances when doing mobility work.

The best exercises are generally the most simple. This is true when it comes to the glut max and med.
Side lying straight leg abduction  ((Glut Med)(as the name suggests, lay on your side with straight leg and lift the top leg straight up and come back down in a controlled manner until your leg is perpendicular with the floor – do not rest on the other leg. Do it 10 times and feel the burn! Check my instagram
for the example.
Single leg deadlift and single leg squat is the most basic for the Glut Max. Stand in a regular position on one leg, bend the knee slightly and flex at the hip to touch the ground with the opposite hand to the leg you are standing on. return to the starting position- remember to keep the knee about the toes as you go down.
The single leg squat is the same movement but with more of a flexed knee.

Of course for the hardcore, you can add weights, rubber bands etc to assist in greater strength building, however, just using your body weight to start with is a good way to increase the activation during warm ups, simple rehab or prevention work. However, as you strengthen them don’t forget the opposite muscles (mainly the hip flexor group) to assist in your overall balance!

Always, for the nerds, here is a good article comparing 12 different exercises and the affect on these butt muscles. Click here. 

Happy Training!

Multiple Flow on Effects from One Muscle - The TFL!

A runner, cyclist and swimmer will, at some point, pick up a little affliction along the Tensor Fascia Latae or TFL for short.

This little muscle, approximately the size of two middle fingers (or a little bigger if you are me – yes, i have small hands) sits just under the hip bone that you will feel on the side of your waist line. It is generally responsible for the leg coming out (abduction), bringing the knee towards the chest (hip flexion) and stability of the hip when standing up – it assists the Glut Max in this case. It also has an effect when we move the leg into a adduction position. Therefore it can be fairly well agreed that it will be activated for almost all functional movements of the leg – so, henceforth, this is for the swimmers, runners and cyclists that are picking up their intensity at this time of year.

Because of the TFL’s role in almost all leg movements, flow on effects are also likely to affect other joints and muscles. The common areas that I find to be related are the glut max activation, Tibal-fibula joint stiffness, Glut medius and minimus stability control in active hip rotation, and lateral calf tightness (in the peroneals).

Glut Max activation –
Here we can see a direct anatomical relationship with the TFL and Glut Max by sharing a common attachment – the Illiotibial band (ITB). When I’ve noticed the TFL & ITB is tight, the activation of the glut max will suffer as the full length of the muscle cannot be used due to the anterior pull affecting the lateral fibers of the glut max. Some may feel this during their training and may even ‘hit or slap’ the glut max to ‘wake it up’. If this is you, focus on a few more bum clenches in your warm ups and rolling out the ITB after you train.

Tibal-Fibula Joint Stiffness.
The insertion of the ITB is on the fibula head (outside of the knee). If you have any stiffness in the TFL or Glut Max, this will naturally refer to stress being places on this little gliding joint just below the outside of the knee. With very little movement in this joint already, a lessened amount can play havoc on the function of other muscles, such as the Peroneals.
If you notice a tight TFL or ITB, roll it out after training and then play a little with your Tibial-fibula joint by pressing underneath and moving your foot around. It can be tricky to notice if you are moving the joint, so be patient and careful!

These three muscles go down the outside of your lower leg. They control a lot of your foot stability and basic movements. For the runners, think of them as the core for your foot. Without them you would simply roll your ankle on every step. As mentioned before these muscles get affected if the Tibial fibula joint is suffering stiffness. Again, if suffering from trouble in the TFL & Glut Max functions then give a little love to these lower leg muscles as they will no doubt be working overtime to correct the dysfunction of the hip area.

Glut Medius and Minimus
These two muscles also assist the hip & leg in a similar fashion to the TFL. We tend to feel the Gluts more often then TFL when there is an issue, so if the side of your hips are playing up, have a feel a little further around and give the TFL some loving care also.

Dry Needling - A Basic Idea

As some of you maybe aware, I have started to use a new technique in pain relief and rehabilitation treatment with thin acupuncture needles called dry needling.

The process is simple – find trigger points (or knots that spread pain) in the muscles, take a thin needle, and put it into them. A strong reaction is felt, generally referring pain to surrounding areas (e.g, a needle put into the upper trapezius neck muscle will give a warm rush of blood feeling into the head and most likely some pain will be felt over the side of the head and up the neck.).

If the needle misses the trigger point, generally no pain is felt as the needle is so thin.

This technique has show tremendous results in peer reviewed studies to reduce local pain as well as referred pain. Mobility is also increased with the technique as the penetration of the muscle with the needle causes a chemical reaction which increase the chances of the muscle relaxing and ’letting go’ of the knot, therefore allowing of the muscle fibers to be free and function properly.

A review of studies has found much evidence tpo support the use of dry needling by educated physical therapists. In the article linked below, it has been show to significantly increase recovery time, from training soreness and injury, especially when combined with other non-invasive treatments (such as sports massage). Studies also concluded that more benefit is found in dry needling then acupuncter.

… “For athletes, this treatment has the ability to have a positive impact on pain, performance, and quality of life,” especially if used in conjunction with stretching, exercise therapy, and other non‐invasive treatments”

So, again, for the nerds out there, have a flick through these articles, come and speak with me about the technique, and book a massage time to experience less pain – with or without needles!