How Important Are The Glute Muscles For Back Pain Relief?

Your gluteals, particularly gluteus maximus – the big one – are frequently involved to some degree in lower back pain. Rehabilitation of these important muscles is essential for your long term recovery but quite often people get caught up being told their gluteals are not firing or inactive.

A lot of this is down to lack of use, made worse by an injury to the area of the spine that directly controls the gluteal muscles, and other muscles in the region. In most cases it is very unlikely that only one muscle in the region is “inactive” and from a logistical point of view this is going to be incredibly difficult to prove in any meaningful way.

For you peace of mind as well as short, medium and long term success, it is better to consider the high probability that the area in general is weaker than it should be, and less functional than it should be. It’s worth also coming to the realisation that this has probably been the case long before you injured your back.

From this viewpoint, we can start to steadily address the musculature in this region, alongside other good practices that strengthen the lower back, core, and hips in general. Progressing your resistance over the weeks and months will help you rebuild this area successfully and help protect your lower back from future injuries in the process.

If you’ve managed to make significant progress strength wise, objectively. For example, you started only being able to squat your body weight poorly, and can now squat with 20-30 kilograms – the weight of that holiday suitcase – then you can re-evaluate if “your gluteals are firing properly”.

At this point you might find that the way you use your body, your own personal morphology may mean you tend to move in a way that favours loading certain muscles. But you only realistically know this once you’ve been actually working on strengthening broadly to begin with.

Don’t get bogged down in the weeds. It leads to analysis paralysis and no progress!

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