Awhile ago, I wrote a blog about being a chronic knee locker, meaning my knee caps (patella) are continually lifted and locked into place by over engagement of my quadriceps.
One of the biggest reasons for this imbalance is weak glutes (butt muscles). I have found that most people think they have strong glutes, but the fact is, their glutes have turned off—meaning, they do not fire when needed, which makes other muscles like the quadriceps kick in instead.
Our glutes can shut off for several reasons, one of which is standing improperly. If you stand with your hips forward (towards the front of the foot), you have turned off your glutes. Active glutes work as a pulley system to draw the pelvis back.
(Image taken from Live Aligned)
When we continually walk and stand with bent knees, that also is an indication of turned off glutes. When your glutes are strong, they will draw the pelvis and knees back so you can fully extend your legs.
Here are a few ways to determine if you have weak glutes:
- Look at your posture in a mirror. Do you stand plumb with your pelvis over your heels? If not, you have weak glutes. (Image is taken from Aligned and Well.)
- When you get in and out of a chair, do your knees come towards each other? If so, you have weak glutes.
- When you perform a squat, do your knees stay stacked over your ankles? If not, you have weak glutes.
The following exercises will help strengthen your glutes.
Theraband walk – place a theraband around your ankles. Step one foot out to the side without turn your toes you. You want to keep your toes straight forward so that you target the muscles on the outside of the hip. Try not to sway as you continue to step one leg out and walk to the side. After you have taken 5-6 steps one way, step the other way. (keep good alignment as you good, hips over heels, head tall, shoulders and knee caps relaxed)
My glue strength was virtually zero—they almost never fired when I needed them to engage. As I’ve strengthened them, I have found I am much more able to stand tall with my hips over my heels. This has also helped to heal my diastais recti (link) and improve my over all body function. And…I actually like chair pose, which I previously hated and tried to avoid ever teaching it in a class.