How Mis-firing Your Glutes Hurts Your Back & Knees

This is the third part of a series on learning proper body position and alignment. Please see below for Parts I and II.

At the end of Part II I mentioned the importance of body awareness and how we know when we are in or out of alignment. Because sometimes the clues as to being in or out of alignment are a little more subtle. We don’t necessarily have to be in excrutiating pain in order to recognize something is wrong.

And so I gave you three ways to work towards proper alignment.

1. We need to understand what the muscle we are trying to contract is doing.

2. We need to know what the opposite muscle is doing.

3. We need to recognize when both of these change and step back at that point, recuperate and try again fresh.

Consider something as simple as being in a half kneeling position.

What does the ideal position for half kneeling look like? Well it should resemble the following:

Straight lines and 90 degree angles.

From the front the foot, knee, hip and shoulder should all face straight forward.

From the side the there should a 90 degree angle at the knee and hip of the forward leg. And the trail leg should have the knee under the hip which is under the shoulder. The chest should be up, shoulders down and back, with a neutral head position.

Take a look at the following picture.

From the side the front leg has a 90 degree at the knee and the hip. And the left knee is under the hip and the shoulders stack up nicely over both of these.

If you notice my arms hang a little bit in front of the body and you can see more of my pinkie than my thumb. This gives a clue that I am slightly internally rotated on the left side of my upper body.

Now imagine a coach were to tell me to contract my left glute to get my hip under my torso and provide more stability.

Can you see what happens?

The obvious outcome is that because I don’t have very good glute control I rock forward on my left knee. I confuse contracting my glute with tilting the pelvis and arching my back.  This tilts the pelvis anteriorly. As well you’ll notice the increased arch (extension) in my low back.

What about my front knee?

Do you see how I’m driving the knee forward? This adds more force to this joint.

As well notice how:

I got shorter.

My head migrated forward.

My arms moved further forward.

My arms turned more inward.

All this because I didn’t have the neuromuscular control to fire my left glute. And now I’ll add stress to my low back and knee.

And this is without load.

In a fairly static controlled environment.

For one rep.

What do you think happens with load, volume and repetition when we don’t set proper body position or have very good neuromuscular control?

We put strain on tissues, such as the low back and knees in this example.

We recover more slowly from activity.

Our body resists the changes we are trying to impose upon it (i.e. weight loss, rehab, performance) as it hangs on for dear life to prevent us from exceeding the tolerance of our tissues to maintain posture and alignment.

So what is the solution?

1. Work with someone who is qualified and has a strong background in functional anatomy. If you don’t know of someone feel free to give me a call to see if an assessment would be appropriate for you.

2. Get as much feedback as you can of your posture. Use cameras, both still and video. Sometimes what we think our bodies are doing is not actually what is going on. Until you see what is going on you may have difficulty understanding how to fix any issues.

3. Know what is putting you out of alignment. Do you drive a vehicle for multiple hours? Are you at a desk each day? In an airplane? In a fixed position for hours on end? Knowing the answers to these will help you figure you where you are falling out of alignment.

Have a great weekend.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                           ‘always moving forward’

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2 Responses to How Mis-firing Your Glutes Hurts Your Back & Knees

  1. Pingback: Our Health And Fitness Blog – Exercise Back Pain Away

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