Monday, March 9, 2009

Are Your Glutes Atrophied?

Whenever I am approached by an avid exerciser or athlete that complains of knee or lower back pain, the first thing I do is check out their ass…literally. Not to sound like a sexual implication, but observing the glutes actually helps me understand a client’s description of knee and lower back pain. Most lower back pain will come from tightness in the hip region, disc degeneration, or some compensatory movement dysfunction. Most of those abnormalities can be identified using movement screening and diagnostic imaging. But in most of all the minor cases of low back pain that I have personally seen, there is a lack of gluteal function, and more notably, a visible lack of gluteal development in the individual. As part of the investigative process, I always recommend that a fitness professional should not only listen to a client’s subjective descriptions of discomfort and pain, but also observe areas of the body for visible abnormalities. The easiest area to start off with is the glutes. Observing for glute atrophy is always evident in cases where the complainant is a member of the general population, and exhibits one or more of the following attributes:

Occupation – does one sit for prolonged periods of time in a vehicle or desk?
Poor lifting habits – does one have poor lifting techniques that may contribute to hip flexor dominance and excessive lumbar flexion? Who taught this athlete how to train?
Muscle maturity – does the intended experiment with ascending loads without performing the proper progressions? (if one is an exerciser or physically active)
Past Injury – has the client experienced injuries to the area or an area that may be involved in the functionality of that prime mover (ankle vs. glute) in recent history.
Furthermore, has the client experienced neural injuries?

Gluteal atrophy can be caused by a combination of the ramifications listed above which can lead to poor neural activation, decreased firing and coordination, and a loss of muscle mass. Some pathologies can also contribute to glute atrophy like nerve damage, stenosis, and vertebral damage.
Most articles provide insight on gluteal exercises that promote function, firing, and strength. However, this article will describe the potential causes of glute atrophy; and the obvious outcomes that stem from it.

Read the entire article in here.


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