Buns of steel?
OK, admit it. Some of us out there want strong hips and a toned backside. And despite the ads that suggest that walking in special sneakers can get the job done, the truth is that we have to put in some effort. Many of our patients ask us how to get in shape, particularly as they begin to feel better and are able to resume or begin an exercise routine. Sometimes people have a specific goal in mind, like running a 5K or resuming regular yoga practice while others want more muscle definition. Regardless of the motivation, most want to get the most results for the least effort and time. I get it- who has time to waste? There’s no point in glossing over your exercises without paying attention to form and detail. Spend 10 quality minutes over 40 sloppy ones any day of the week. Otherwise, you’re just wasting time.
So naturally Emily and I were excited to find recent research in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT about some specific exercises that target the buttocks- specifically the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius, important muscles for hip stabilization (think walking, standing, running, staying upright) and often suspected as trouble makers if they are not doing their fair share of the work. You can check them out here. These exercises are excellent for targeting these muscles and minimizing the recruitment of the tensor fascia latae (TFL) muscle. The TFL is not a ‘bad’ or unnecessary muscle- there are no ‘bad’ muscles! However, some people may inadvertently overuse the TFL in their quest for stronger or more defined hips, leading to muscle imbalances or further weakening the muscles they are trying to target.
Now you have some great exercises- you can’t go wrong, right? Well, it’s not always that easy. Take to heart one of my patients, a triathlete who is working her way back to sport after a series of injuries. Her hips tested as significantly weak- both to manual resistance and during her attempts to squat and lunge. When I showed her some of these exercises, her first words were “I have been doing these exercises for two years!” True- she demonstrated three of the five exercises shown here. Incorrectly. She whizzed through them easily until we corrected her technique, suddenly rendering these old favorites much more difficult- and effective.
This doesn’t happen to everyone who tries a new exercise- movement is natural and something our bodies are made for. So if you are looking for some hip strengthening exercises, print these off (JOSPT 2013 hip) and give them a try. If you don’t get the results you expect or don’t feel confident that you are doing them correctly, you may need more resistance or instruction in proper form- or you may not be targeting the right muscles after all. Yes, our glutes are important and wonderful! But they are only part of the story. So put away those gimmicky shoes and talk to your physical therapist to learn more about your specific needs and how to reach your fitness goals. We are here to help.
Until next time,