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  • Writer's pictureDr. Hanna Shays

Low Back Pain & Other Signs that Your Glutes may not be Turning on...

Caption that explains signs of glute max dysfunction
Signs that your glutes may not be turning on

The following are signs that your glutes are likely not activating appropriately or at the appropriate time during functional movement or exercise:


1. A history of frequent hamstring tears or strains

2. Hamstring cramps when performing exercises like bridges or hip thrusts

3. Foot & calf cramps throughout the day or at the end of the day

4. Low back pain

5. Knee pain

6. NEVER feeling your glutes activate during walking, squatting, going up stairs


Proper glute max activation is something that is critical to proper body mechanics. This muscle is a major mover when we are performing hip extension: during walking, going up stairs, squatting, transitioning from sit to stand. Oftentimes, our hamstrings and quads can become the dominant mover, but this is not their job! Why does this happen? We spend far more time sitting on our butts than using them: sitting in class, at work, in the car, eating, watching tv, etc. It doesn't matter how "active" you are--once your brain determines that you don't need to use that muscle group as often, it starts to rely on other muscles (like hamstrings and quads) to do the job. Now think about how this might affect our running, jumping and other sport-specific movements over time! The most common sign that we see related to poor glute max activation is low back pain.


How can we address this problem? First, we need to get our brains talking to our butts again. Performing an isolated glute squeeze is a great way to get the pathway up and running again. You can perform a glute squeeze laying down, seated or standing. Being able to perform this muscle activation alone is crucial to being able to progress to proper glute activation with functional movement and exercise.


For a more in-depth approach to addressing potential glute max dysfunction, contact us to schedule an initial consult. Perhaps this is the root cause to your pain!

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