Restore Activity to Gluteal Muscles

Most of us sit on our backsides all day long. This often contributes to lower cross syndrome. This condition involves the combination of tight hip flexor and erector back muscles with weak or inhibited abdominal and buttocks muscles.

The specific buttocks muscle affected in lower cross syndrome is the gluteus maximus, the largest and most superficial gluteal muscle. The main action of this muscle is hip extension and is therefore active in the majority of our movements.

Muscular inhibition means that the muscle is not firing properly. This often occurs after an injury in the area of the inhibited muscle or when a muscle is being compensated for by stronger, synergistic muscles. This is different from muscular weakness. Weakness indicates that a muscle's neurological firing is normal, but its strength is lacking.

Some individuals with lower cross syndrome have inhibited gluteus maximus muscles, others have weak bottoms and some struggle with both inhibited and weak buttocks muscles. It is important to distinguish the difference between inhibited and weak muscles as knowing this determines the direction of both treatment and rehabilitation. A functionally focused manual practitioner will be able to determine the operating status of your toosh.

Let's discuss some tricks that you can use at the office to both rouse and strengthen your gluteus maximus muscles.

• Start drawing attention to your buttocks throughout the day; squeeze your cheeks together while at your desk on and off over the course of the day. The more you focus on a muscle, the more your neurological system will tune in to it.

• Try tapping or poking at your glutes while you walk to attempt to improve their neurological firing. Remember that this muscle works to extend the hip; therefore, when your leg goes back during gait, tap your butt to wake it up.

• Upon rising from your chair, try contracting your gluteus maximus concentrically to help you stand. When you lower to your chair, squeeze your buttocks to engage your gluteus maximus eccentrically. Think squats when you both stand and sit. Throw in a few more while you are at it and get yourself a little derrière workout at the office, but you might want to see who is watching first!

• If you are standing in front of a wall or a desk, stand on one foot, bend your non-standing knee to 90 degrees, bend forward slightly at the hips and extend the non-standing hip about 20-30 degrees slowly. Contract your gluteus maximus before you initiate hip extension as the goal is to do this without overly engaging your hamstrings. This is very tricky, especially for those of us with overactive hamstrings due to inhibited gluteus maximus muscles. Until you can master this movement without excessively contracted hamstrings, take your time with it as doing repeated exercises incorrectly will only perpetuate the aberrant muscle firing patterns. Practice makes permanent, so make sure it is perfect practice!

There are more superior exercises and treatment options for a weak or inhibited gluteus maximus and remember that this issue cannot be looked at in isolation as other muscles and joint issues can contribute to a poorly functioning toosh. These exercises are a good start for the office and are not too distracting for co-workers!

If you are experiencing low back or hip flexor tightness and of course pain, get checked out as there are many things that could be contributing to this that can be easily fixed with soft tissue treatment, exercises, and even Kinesio® Tape. Avoid pain in the butt injuries before they occur. Pay attention to your body and get assessed when something seems abnormal.

Learn More about Dr. Carla Cupido.

My name is Carla Cupido and I am a chiropractor in Vancouver (Kitsilano), Canada, who believes strongly in the bond between yoga and chiropractic. I will be writing a series of articles on neuromusculoskeletal conditions and their connectedness to yoga from a chiropractor's perspective. I encourage you to learn as much as you can about the human body, as the more you understand, the better able you will be to protect yourselves from injury. I wish you all the best in your practices and in your lives! Namaste.

You can contact Dr. Carla Cupido by email at
or via her website:

Her practice is located at 3623 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, V6R 1J2.
The phone number at the clinic is 604-222-4131.

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