Thursday, December 13, 2012

Get your Ass in Gear

The title of this blog literally describes its topic: getting your gluteus complex working properly. Doesn't seem quite as exciting when it is said that way, however! There are a few stages of muscle dysfunction that tend to happen in order. The first such stage is atrophy, the process of a muscle getting smaller and weaker because it is not being used. The body has decided, since you are not going to use it, why bother to keep it big and strong. The second stage is neurological communication deficits; this is when the brain has decided to get in on the action and, since you are not using this muscle, not only is it going to get smaller and weaker, but now the brain is also going to stop communicating to it in an effective way. The third and final stage is complete and total communication shut down. Now that you and your butt, in this instance, have stopped talking for a while, it is going to become non communicative when you need it. By the way, if you get to this stage, you are in big trouble! Usually people sit and stay in stage 2 when it comes to their glutes.

What does it feel like to have your butt stop communicating with you? Well, for this, we need to do a small demonstration. Sitting upright with your feet and knees together, contract/squeeze your glutes. Things to note are if one cheek contracts before the other or if it feels like the muscle “jerks” to attention as opposed to a slow steady contraction. To feel what a properly communicative muscle feels like, flex your bicep. It is likely that you can do it fast or slow and you can contract right and left at the same time. This is because you are in constant communication with these muscles and they are attuned to your needs accordingly.

The natural question at this point is why. Why is your ass not in gear? Most of us (people in the modern world) spend most of our time sitting. While we are sitting, this muscle is lengthened. Then, when we exercise (for those of us who do), we are typically in a bent forward position: running, cycling, playing sports, etc. As a result of this, the gluteus complex becomes lengthened and then unresponsive and the first of the three stages begins.

The next natural question is how do we correct it! Happily, that is an easier answer than people think. The first step is simply sitting and squeezing our glutes. While doing this, focus on contracting them slowly and together. You will see how hard this is once you get past the first few repetitions (if you didn't notice it on the very first one). This should be done several times a day, especially if you work at a desk. It is also important to train your gluteus medius, lesser known but very important partner to gluteus maximus. For an excellent exercise that will help you get in touch with glute med click on "shell exercise" and perform as described in any number of online videos. 

The next step is to start glute bridging (laying on your back with your knees bent and your heals as close to your butt as possible, then push your hips into the air and squeeze your glutes). Make sure that you are feeling this exercise primarily in your glutes and not in your hamstrings or lower back. Beyond bridging, there is a never-ending series of progressions, but master these two before moving on to more advanced stuff!

What are you waiting for? Get your ass in gear!
          ~ Yoshia

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