Friday, March 7, 2008

The Athlete's Power Center: The Hips and Glutes

Great athletes dominate dynamic movements with the hips, glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings. Lateral speed is particularly created and maintained by the strength of the glutes and hips.

There are a host of injuries that arise when your hips are tight causing your glutes to not fire properly.

When your glutes (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus) don't fire properly, you can count on hamstring injuries. The hamstrings are left to do the work that your glutes (mainly gluteus maximus) should be doing.

The hamstrings are not equipped to do the work of the gluteus maximus. See this post about hamstring injuries

The glutes don't fire properly when the hip flexors (psoas, iliacus, tensor fascia latae, etc.) are overactive or tight. This can happen due to poor flexibility or prolonged sitting. When the hip flexors don't work properly, its antagonist (mainly the gluteus maximus) becomes weak.

This is known as reciprocal inhibition (when muscles on one side of a joint become tight or overactive, it shuts down the muscles on the other side of the joint). When a prime mover (such as the gluteus maximus) becomes weak, other muscles (synergists) take over the function that the prime mover should be doing.

In this case, the synergists would be the hamstrings. Some other injuries that occur because of inactive glutes are piriformis syndrome, knee ACL tears and low back injuries.

Flexibility in all areas is crucial for your athletic success. The glutes/hips area cannot be left out of the flexibility puzzle. Jogging for 5 minutes is not enough. Specific flexibility and strength exercises for the glutes/hips area are needed.

The stretches are listed as follows (use self myofascial release with foam roller before doing these stretches):

1. Hip Flexor Stretch
2. Quadriceps Stretch
3. Bodyweight Lateral Lunges (for adductors)

Then, you need to activate (fire up) your glutes with these exercises:

1. Glute Bridge
2. Opposite Leg Opposite Arm Raise
3. Glute Kickbacks

Lastly, exercise the fired up glutes/hips with these exercises:

1. Bodyweight squats
2. Lateral tube walks
3. Dumbbell walking lunges and dumbbell lateral lunges

Don't undertrain or inadequately train an important part of your power center---your hips and glutes!

Be sure and download your Free Bodyweight 500 Metabolic Fat Burner Workouts and start shaping your body faster!

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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