As I have mentioned before, the Gluteus Maximus is one of the most important muscles on the body to develop, but what happens when this muscle-group loses touch with how it was meant to work? Gluteal Amnesia has been an issue with the majority of clients I have worked with, since I have been a Personal Trainer. If a person has Gluteal Amnesia, it can severely limit the individuals functional movement capacity, because the body’s base of power has now been compromised. So what is Gluteal Amnesia? Gluteal Amnesia is an abnormal muscular recruitment pattern done during hip extension and posterior pelvic tilt. In layman’s terms: your butt muscles are being held back from working to their full potential when you are trying to get them to. Without proper muscle recruitment during hip extension and posterior pelvic tilt, your body relies upon other weaker muscle-groups to compensate in order to still achieve the movement. This means that when you’re doing functional primal movements (lunging, squatting, sprinting, throwing, etc.), you will have muscles like the Gluteus Medius, Quadriceps, Hamstrings and Erector Spinae (lower back muscles) having to bare the load for all these movements.
The most common physical issues associated with Gluteal Amnesia are:
Lower back pain/tightness– Rather then your hips going into extension to lift something, your lower back compensates and bares the load for what the Gluteus Maximus is supposed to be doing.
Knee pain– Knee problems usually become an issue because of an over-development in the Quadriceps. It’s important to understand the the Quadriceps, if over-developed, can begin to pull your patella (knee cap) out of place, causing excessive strain on the the ligaments attached to the knee region (ACL, MCL, LCL, etc.). If you ever notice that your Quadriceps are fatiguing exclusively during exercises like lunges and squats, then you might be a candidate for knee problems sometime in the future.
Flat feet– When proper hip extension and posterior pelvic tilt become compromised, this can usually lead to an external rotation in the hips (feet pointing out like a duck), and hip abduction (like cowboy who just got off a horse). Because Gluteus Maximus does not function efficiently during Gluteal Amnesia, other muscles like the Piriformis, Gluteus Minimus and Gluteus Medius have to compensate. Hip abduction and external rotation usually lead to ankle pronation (foot arches sagging to the floor), based upon the new positioning of the foot after the hip imbalance.
Tight Hamstrings– When your Gluteus Maximus forgets to work on something as functional as a sprint, your hamstrings usually have to act in extension to propel your forward. If a muscle works too much, it’s usually going to get tight.
Here is a video of me presenting a stretch I like to utilize with my clients to literally give their butts the reminder they need to get off the bench, and back in the game. The specific muscle we are going after here is going to be the Rectus Femoris. This muscle is located on the front of the thigh bone, and its responsible for the exact opposite motion of the Gluteus Maximus, hip flexion. When you sit at a desk all day long, this is going to be the one Quadriceps/Hip Flexors that with get tight. If it stays tight, it will keep your Gluteus Maximus in a dormant state and incapable of proper contraction.
I will also post some videos beneath this one that you may want to utilize in conjunction with the quadricep stretch to help cure your Gluteal Amnesia, and get your functional training dialed in. Enjoy 🙂
Static Stretch for the Quadriceps
Myofascial Release for the Quadriceps
Myofascial Release for Piriformis
Myofascial Release for Gluteus Medius/Minimus
Myofascial Release for the Tensor Fascia Lata