Activating glutes can reduce injury risk

By Nicole Sullivan, CSCS

One of the most simple, effective ways to reduce your injury risk is learning how to properly activate and strengthen your glutes. The glutes are comprised of three muscles — the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus — and together they are the most powerful muscles in the body. The gluteal muscles can help prevent injuries from ACL tears to lower back and hamstring strains and more.

SymptStrength and conditioning specialist, Nicole Sullivan, at Sanford POWER in Fargo, NDoms of weak or inactive glutes include: knee or lower back pain, weak ankles and feet, knee valgus or tight hip flexors.

The importance of gluteal muscle training goes beyond injury prevention and includes maximizing athletic performance. They help execute a large variety of movements, such as: running, jumping, climbing, throwing, leaping, cutting and twisting. Performing this large variety of movements means it is important to train the gluteal muscles in a wide variety of ways.

For example, a well-rounded gluteal program should include the following hip exercises: extension, hyperextension, abduction and external rotation. A muscle that performs different actions must be trained with different variations.

Staple exercises of well-rounded gluteal training are squats and hip-hinges. Exercises that can be easily completed at home include:

  • Banded hip abduction
  • Bird dogs
  • Clamshells
  • Donkey kicks
  • Fire hydrants
  • Glute-bridges
  • Hip thrusts
  • Kettle bell swings

Adding knee bands to your current exercises is a great way to enhance your current training. For example, during a squat, the knee band forces your knees together, making your glutes work harder to prevent knee valgus. Knee bands also add an extra level of difficulty and better glute activation to jumping exercises and lateral band walks. Well-rounded gluteal training is optimal for athletes to prevent injury and enhance athletic performance.