Muscle Group of the Week: Glutes

by Oct 23, 2023

The gluteal muscle group consists of three individual buttock muscles that originate from the pelvic crest and sacrum and insert into the head of the femur.  The largest and most superficial gluteal muscle is the gluteus maximus; the lateral part of the upper buttock lying deep to the gluteus maximus is the gluteus medius; and the smallest and deepest gluteal muscle is the gluteus minimus.

glutes anatomically highlighted on a person

Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Medius

 

What Does it Do?

The glutes assist us with lower body movements such as sitting, standing, running, walking, and jumping.  In addition, the gluteal muscles are also responsible for keeping the hips properly aligned, making their functionality crucial to our body posture.

More specifically, what are the actions of each individual gluteal muscle?

Gluteus Maximus

  • Thigh extension
  • Thigh external rotation
  • Thigh abduction
  • Thigh adduction

Gluteus Medius

  • Thigh internal rotation
  • Thigh abduction
  • Pelvis stabilization

Gluteus Minimus

  • Thigh internal rotation
  • Thigh abduction
  • Pelvis stabilization

 

Making it Strong

When your hips are well aligned, you’re less likely to encounter injuries to the legs, knees, groin, or lower back.  As stated earlier, strong gluteal muscles are necessary for balanced hips.  What are some of the most common glutes strengthening exercises?

woman in dark clothes doing a squat

Squats

woman doing donkey kicks exercise on the floor

Donkey Kicks

woman doing a bridge on the floor

Glute Bridges

woman's legs doing a lunge

Lunges

The Best Stretches

So you’ve strengthened your glutes and you’re ready for that run, hike, rock climb, sports event… any activity requiring thigh extension, rotation, abduction and adduction under the control of aligned hips.  But before heading out, make sure you stretch!

woman doing pigeon stretch on the floor

Pigeon Stretch

woman laying on her back on the floor with one leg pulled up to chest with a flexed foot

Knee to Chest Stretch

woman in downward dog

Downward Dog Pose

Keeping It Happy

Now you’ve gone for that run, hike, rock climb, and sports event! The easy exercises listed above have become routine – either that or you’ve been rocking the treadmill, elliptical, spin bike, and stair stepper at the gym! Your gluteal strength and endurance is through the roof, but now your buttock muscles are short and hyper-contracted… all knotted up, at risk for injury if they aren’t loosened!

A combination of different massage modalities can be very effective for tight glutes. Deep tissue and sports massage are commonly applied to this muscle group, and trigger point therapy is often paired with both techniques. The glutes are some of the most tender muscles in the entire body, being rife with trigger points that restrict blood flow to the muscle fibers. Trigger point therapy involves direct compression to a hyper-irritable nodule in the muscular tissue, pressing on the specific area until the spot releases and its sensitivity lessens.

As is the case with any tightened muscle group, there is always going to be an overstretched and weakened antagonist muscle group. When the gluteal muscles shorten and tighten, the hip flexors require strengthening. With the help of a bodywork professional, you can receive assisted stretching that targets your psoas and iliacus. You need your opposing muscle groups working properly!  If your glutes are too restricted to extend your hips and your iliopsoas is too weak to flex the hip, your pelvis can fall out of balance!

 

Now You Know!

Keep the pelvic tilts away with strong and mobile gluteal muscles!  Next time, we’ll talk about the importance of healthy quadriceps!

Katrina Jenkins

Katrina Jenkins

Author, Licensed Massage Therapist

Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.

Resources

Garone, NDTR, Sarah . “Build Stronger Glutes: Exercises and Tips for a Stronger Butt.” Verywell Fit, 1 May 2023, www.verywellfit.com/how-to-build-stronger-glutes-7479694. Accessed 17 Oct. 2023.

Kenhub. “Iliopsoas Muscle.” Kenhub, Kenhub, 9 July 2012, www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/iliopsoas-muscle.

Nunez, Kirsten. “7 Easy Ways to Stretch Tight Glutes.” Healthline, 28 Jan. 2022, www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/how-to-stretch-glutes.

Sendić MD, Gordana . “Gluteal Muscles.” Kenhub, 8 Sept. 2023, www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/gluteal-muscles.

 

Photo Credit

Canva by pixelshot
Canva by janulla
Canva by Artem Varnitsin
Canva by Tatiana
Canva by shironosov
Canva by progressman
Canva by bongkarngraphic
Canva by fizkes
Canva by fizkes

Read More From Our Blog

Assisted Stretching: New 30-Minute Service!

Moyer Total Wellness is now offering assisted stretching!  Our new 30-minute service is designed...

Muscle Group of the Week: Lateral Abdominal Wall

Abs. When we hear the word abs, we tend to think of that bumpy six-pack area situated vertically...

Muscle Group of the Week: Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi, also known as the lats or the latissimus, is an expansive muscle covering...

Muscle Group of the Week: Triceps

Found on the dorsal side of the upper arm, the three-headed triceps muscle is the antagonist of...

Muscle Group of the Week: Biceps

Biceps brachii, which translates to “two-headed muscle of the arm”, is a large thick muscle group...
[/db_pb_post_slider]