Marta Montenegro: Don’t Suffer from “Gluteal Amnesia”

Do you get up from the chair using your back or the hips/leg muscles?

When spending long hours sitting has became quite the norm, the body has taken a toll by creating some type of distortion motor patterns. More alarming than the abnormal body moves are the deficits in motion and motor patterns developed.

“People with trouble backs, generally walk, sit, stand and lift using mechanics that increase the back loads. They tend to have more motion in their back and less motion in their hips. A common aberrant motor pattern known as gluteal amnesia,” explains Stuart McGill, Ph.D., renowned authority on the spine biomechanics, University of Waterloo, in his article: “Core Training: Evidence Translating to Better Performance and Injury Prevention” published in Strength and Conditioning Journal.

Pain-free back

One of the most powerful muscles in the body relies on your posterior rear. Running, jumping, climbing the stairs and so many daily activities require the gluteus muscles to fully kick in. However, after sustaining prolonged and repetitive bad postures, the gluteus muscles can be inhibited, which makes the hamstrings and other back extensor muscles to take over, adds McGill.

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“Gluteal muscle reintegration helps to unload the back,” points out McGill. In a study where lumbo-pelvic muscle activity, velocity and angular displacement was evaluated during the single-leg landing task, individuals with diminished hip muscle strength – particularly on the gluteus muscles – reported greater stress on the lumbo-pelvic region.

The authors of the study “Lumbo-pelvic Landing Kinematics and EMG in Women with Contrasting Hip strength,” published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, say that weakness of the gluteus muscles may alter muscle activation responsible for controlling and stabilizing the body.

Step up

Many people do not realize the connection between a healthy back with a strong gluteus. Certainly, back hygiene involves other muscles and exercise techniques beyond the gluteus muscles. However, as many studies show, a strong posterior positively take some pressure off the back; thus, affecting not just the back but also the whole posterior kinetic chain.

Whether you are looking for a healthier back or just want a toned and strong gluteus to show off this summer season, start with the step up.

A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, indicated that the step up elicited the greatest activation of the gluteus medius and maximus along with other hip extensors muscles.

Steel butt workout

- Perform this workout as a super-set – two exercises performed one after another with no rest-

- There are two super-sets.  Do the power move at the end of each super-set

- Do three sets per 10-12 reps

- Perform this routine two times a week in non consecutive days

- Do a dynamic stretch to warm up at the beginning of the workout and a static stretching at the end

Marta Montenegro is an exercise physiologist, certified strength and conditioning coach and master trainer, who teaches as an adjunct professor at Florida International University. Marta has developed her own system of exercises used by professional athletes. Her personal website,, combines fitness, nutrition and health tips, exercise routines, recipes and the latest news to help you change your life but not your lifestyle. She was the founder of nationally awarded SOBeFiT magazine and the fitness DVD series Montenegro Method.

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