Glute force: why big, strong bum muscles matter for your overall health
The glutes are the large, powerful muscles in your bum that help support the pelvis, stabilise the hip joint and allow the hip to move.
Countless social media posts extol the virtues of building strong glutes through exercises such as squats. However, most of what you hear from such “gymfluencers” is about how the bum muscles look.
Forget about how they look; what about what they do? Why is having big, strong glutes important for your body to function well?
In fact, having strong bum muscles is crucial to good musculoskeletal health.
Bum muscles hold your body up and protect the hip joint
The gluteal muscles are a group of three separate muscles, each with unique anatomical structure and function.
The deepest and smallest muscle is called the gluteus minimus, which is very close to the hip joint itself.
Overlaying gluteus minimus is the gluteus medius. This one is relatively large and spans the whole outer surface of the pelvis.
The gluteus maximus is the largest of the three gluteal muscles and overlays both gluteus medius and minimus. This muscle is what gives the the bum its distinctive bum-like shape, but it plays a very important role in the way your body functions.
In combination, the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus gives rise to many hip movements, and provide shock absorption when you’re walking or running.
These muscles work together with your brain to generate a lot of power to hold your body up as gravity tries to pull it down. They also protect the hip joint from impact and from shearing forces that might cause long term damage.
Some of our work has identified some people with hip pain also have impairments in the gluteal muscles.
These impairments could reduce the bum muscles’ ability to protect the joint against long term damage and potentially affect a person’s ability to bear weight (for example, when standing on one leg or climbing stairs).
A reduction in muscle size and an increase in non-active tissue such as fat has been reported in hip conditions such as greater trochanteric pain syndrome (a common type of hip pain, also known as gluteal tendinopathy).
The same is also true for hip osteoarthritis, which affects the whole joint.
The rates of osteoarthritis in Australia are increasing, with one in every seven hip joint replacements conducted in people ...