Healthy Lifestyle

3 Reasons Strong Glutes are Important

A strong backside for good reason

You have a great butt. No really… you do! 

The amazing muscles in your backside – known as your gluteal muscles – help your body stay upright, keep your body moving forward and help you power through your workouts. Keeping your posterior healthy can make a big difference in your every move. 

Get to know your glutes

There are three different gluteal muscles:  

  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Minimus

Together, these muscles are responsible for extension, internal rotation and abduction of the hip.

How they work

The gluteus medius and minimus muscles work together to promote hip abduction (the movement of the leg away from the body) and prevent hip adduction (the movement of the leg toward the body). They stabilize the hip and help us balance. 

Gluteus maximus is the primary hip extensor muscle, and also the largest of the three gluteals. Their biggest job is in keeping us upright and pushing our bodies forward.

"Strong gluteals are important for proper pelvic alignment, propulsion during walking and running, and even standing on one leg. Gluteals also help support the lower back during lifting, and help prevent knee injuries." 

Amy Koch, MPT, COMT
Methodist Physical Therapist

Gluteal muscles are the focus of many exercises, including deadlifts, squats, resisted band side steps, bridges and even walking.

Three reasons strong glutes are important

1. Reduce back pain

Your gluteals are responsible for hip extension and assist their reverse action. When your feet are fixed on the ground, their job is to move your chest upward from the ground, like in a deadlift. Strong gluteals are essential to lower back health since they assist with pelvic, hip and trunk motions. They also help more evenly distribute load throughout your lower back and lower extremities and assist in good posture. 

2. Reduce knee pain

Your gluteal muscles create pelvic stability; which is especially important when your lower extremities function in a closed chain. For example, if you twist your ankle, you can also have imbalances at the knee and further up the leg. The same thing can happen if instability begins at the hip, leading to excessive force on the knee and ankle. That can mean knee pain or discomfort. 

Instability at the hip can cause your femur to turn too far inwards (excessive medial rotation), causing your kneecap to slip out of place as your leg bends and straightens. It’s called lateral patellar tracking, and is a common source of the pain for many people.

3. Increase power and exercise performance

Your gluteals assist in forward propulsion during running by creating explosive hip extension. They are essential to acceleration, jumping and even heavy lifting. If your gluteal muscles get weak, you may find yourself less powerful and less efficient. 

Putting your best rear forward

Whether you are a beginning runner or a marathoner, assisting a friend with a move, or simply performing regular job and household functions, the health of your gluteals can help determine your success. If you have leg or hip pain or need help with strengthening, talk with your Methodist Physicians Clinic physical therapist.

About the Author

Amy Koch, MPT, COMT, STMT-1, SFMA-1, is the physical therapy clinic manager at Methodist Physicians Clinic. In addition to managing the clinic's day-to-day operations, she strives to provide effective care through listening and staying positive.

“I especially love helping a patient realize how important a strong core is to shoulder, hip and knee health,” she said.

See more articles from Amy Koch, MPT, COMT, STMT-1, SFMA-1
Photo of Amy Koch, MPT, COMT, STMT-1, SFMA-1