In this article, I’m going to share with you 8 simple gluteal strain exercises that will not only heal you but ensure your gluteal muscles are strong and activating just as they should be moving forward in your life.
The most frequent causes of injury, pain and sub-par mobility are a result of having imbalanced, weak, and under-activated glute muscles.
Since way back when, you would hear tales from the likes of a physical therapist, a trainer, and a coach, who told us to focus on our core as this is the primary muscle that supports our every move.
There’s no denying that core work is important, but in reality, it does very little for the glutes and leaves them unacknowledged, resulting in them being more open to injury.
So yes, while it’s great to have a good-looking butt in those tight-fitted jeans, it’s worth remembering that the glutes have the largest group of muscles in the body and need lots of attention to avoid the risk of poor mobility and injury.
What is a Gluteal Strain And How Does it Happen?
A gluteal strain is when the muscle fibers in your buttocks are stretched or torn.
It usually happens as a result of some form of exercise that involves running or jumping for example, although this isn’t set in stone.
However, this isn’t to say the injury happened out of the blue during exercise (although this definitely can and does happen).
The injury was probably always going to happen at some point; it was just a case of when.
And the reason why?
Years of living with imbalanced, weak, and under-activated glute muscles.
And the cold harsh reality is that we spend too much of our lives sitting, which results in tight hips and weak glutes.
Trust me, I speak from experience.
I have always done some form of exercise most of my life, but one thing I neglected for over three decades was my glutes – and boy did I pay for it, and still am.
The body is intelligent.
It will lean on any secondary muscle it can in order to compensate for an imbalanced, weak, or underactive primary muscle to get a task done.
This could be during exercise or even everyday activities.
But let’s take running for example.
When we run our glutes are accountable for pretty much everything.
They hold our pelvis level and steady, extend our hips, propel us forward, and keep the legs, pelvis, and torso aligned.
So when the glutes have an imbalance or weakness, our whole kinetic chain is in disarray.
Now add to that running long distances, for months or years on end.
Eventually, this can lead to a bad injury, or even shin splints for example, which isn’t pleasant at all.
Furthermore, secondary muscles will also compensate poor primary muscles in even the easiest of tasks like walking too.
What Are The Symptoms of a Gluteal Strain?
A gluteal strain causes pain in the buttocks (no jokes here please!).
You can experience pain at any given time, but especially walking up and downstairs, and sitting.
I also experienced pain whenever I would move my leg backward, too.
Many people think their injury is a strain, but upon further investigation with a professional, they found out they actually experienced a gluteus medius tear.
So my advice would be to get it checked out by a professional and do the necessary physical therapy to recover correctly and efficiently.
The Benefits of Having Stronger Glute Muscles
It is without question that the stronger your glutes are, the more you will be in a position to manage and prevent pain.
I suffered from lower back pain for years and eventually realized that weak glutes were the cause.
Studies have shown that groups of people with chronic back pain had glutes that were more susceptible to fatigue.
However, when this research was compared to healthy people with no back pain, it was found that they were more prone to having strong glutes.
Not only that, but knee pain can also be a telltale sign of weak glutes.
Many people aren’t aware that if there is a strength imbalance in the glutes, the knee will not move properly, which can cause pain.
This can be the left side glute weaker than the right, or both glutes equally as weak as one another.
Strengthening your glutes will protect you against pain.
I’ll be honest, I don’t think many people maintain correct posture.
I know I don’t.
I’m pretty terrible actually, but I’m a work in progress.
Unconsciously, slouching feels more comfortable than standing upright with shoulders back and chest out.
And have you ever tried to fix your posture?
Not easy, is it….?
Having weak or under-activated glutes can be the culprit for poor posture.
When your glutes don’t have adequate strength, your latissimus dorsi (the large, flat muscle covering the width of the middle and lower back) overcompensates.
This makes the torso and shoulders pull out of their natural, correct position.
And if you have stronger hip flexors than your glutes, they can pull your pelvis out of its natural alignment, which means pain, and poor posture.
Reduced risk of injury
Regardless of whether you’re an athlete or not, a weakness in the glutes is connected to numerous injuries.
These can be ankle sprains, hamstring strains, lower back pain (and chronic lower back pain), ACL, and other knee injuries.
How you move is indicative of the condition your glute muscles are in.
I mean, without glutes you wouldn’t be able to walk upright. You’d be falling all over the place.
To be fully mobile and move well, you need strong, balanced, activated glute muscles.
Strong glutes are the key to better overall athletic performance.
You use them for everything: changing directions, accelerating, decelerating, jumps, and explosive power.
There isn’t an athlete at a decent level who will have weak, unbalanced, un-activated glutes.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t survive without injury or produce the results they need.
How Often Should You Stretch Your Glutes?
I highly recommend stretching your glute muscles as follows:
- As part of your warm-up before you exercise
- For 10 minutes every day
- After sitting for prolonged periods of time without moving
Warm-up: This helps with blood flow to the glutes and prepares them for activity and movement. I would also try incorporating some warm-up work using a resistance band too, for a real stretch.
Post-workout: Helps with flexibility, reduces the risk of injury and muscle strains, reduces DOMS (delayed-onset muscle soreness), prevents stiffness, and improves performance for your next workout.
10 minutes per day: I feel the glutes should be given specific attention each and every day to improve flexibility, strength, and overall movement. Also, it reduces weakness, injury, and poor posture.
After sitting for prolonged periods of time: Whether you’re on a plane, long car drive, sitting at a desk, or binge-watching your favorite TV show; stretching your glutes will help reduce stiffness.
8 Simple Gluteal Strain Exercises
(Please check with your health care provider before performing these exercises).
1. Glute Bridges
Step 1: Lie flat on your back with knees bent, pointed directly upwards towards the ceiling.
Step 2: Lift your hips up and squeeze your glutes and abdominals gently at the same time.
Step 3: Hold the position for 5-10 seconds and slowly release back down.
Repeat 10 times throughout the day.
Side note: You are fine to rest a light dumbbell across your hips while you perform this movement, as long as it isn’t too painful.
2. Single Knee to Chest Stretch
Step 1: Lie flat on your back with both knees pointed directly towards the ceiling and both feet flat on the floor.
Step 2: Pull one knee (gently) towards your chest and hold for 10 seconds, and switch legs.
Repeat 8-10 times.
3. Stretch Lunge
Step 1: While standing, take a large step forward in a straight line and keep your trunk upright.
Step 2: Dip your other knee down toward the floor, whilst bending your back leg.
Step 3: Slowly bend forward, very gently. Hold in the lunge position for 10-15 seconds and return to the start position, then swap legs.
Repeat 10 times.
4. Prone Hip Extension
Step 1: Lie on your stomach on the floor with both legs straight. Use a towel or mat if it makes you more comfortable.
Step 2: Slowly raise the leg that has the glute injury a few inches off the floor and hold between 5-10 seconds.
Step 3: Slowly lower your leg back down.
Repeat 5-8 times successively.
5. Bike Riding
Stationary bike riding is an awesome exercise to get stronger, activated glute muscles.
Give this short video a watch and listen to how Mark explains the importance of activating your glutes when cycling, and how to do it effectively.
Important note: I would encourage you to only perform a few minutes of cycling per day to start if the injury is relatively new, and increase when you feel the injury has reduced somewhat. Cycling is up there with some of the best gluteal strain exercises.
6. Seated Four-Figure Stretch
Step 1: Sit upright in a solid chair. Put your left ankle on your right thigh, slightly above your knee. Now place your hands on your shins.
Step 2: Lean slightly forward to produce a deeper stretch while keeping your spine as straight as possible.
Step 3: Hold for 20-30 seconds and return to starting position.
Step 4: Repeat with the other leg.
This is a great way to open up the hips.
7. Pigeon Stretch
Step 1: Begin on all fours. Lay your left knee towards your left wrist, and put your shin on the floor. Then move your left foot (particularly the ankle) towards your right wrist.
Step 2: Slide your right leg back while keeping your toes pointed, and face your hips forward. Make sure to extend your spine.
Step 3: Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and return to starting position, then swap legs.
8. Seated Twist
Step 1: Sit on the ground and stretch your legs out in front of you.
Step 2: Put your right arm behind you and bring your right leg over the left leg, and place your right foot on the floor, close to your left knee.
Step 3: Put your left arm over your right knee, palm facing outward.
Step 4: Twist to the right using your left arm to pull your right knee inward. Make sure to stop if you feel a sharp pain.
Step 5: Hold for 20-30 seconds.
Step 6: Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.
To avoid injury in the future, it’s wise to pay particular attention to strengthening your gluteus Maximus muscle.
It will also help relieve hip pain, tightness, and tension leaving you with functional hip muscles.
You’ll also be surprised at how much more comfortable your back will feel if you’re someone who suffers from back pain.
Above all else, there will be a noticeable difference in your flexibility and range of motion if you put a few minutes aside each day to stretch.
About the author
I'm Chris. I have a vast interest in all things relating to health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. I also love to improve my mindset and learn how to increase my productivity. If you'd like to say hello or ask me a question, please visit my contact page, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter (@liveliftlife).