How Under-Active Glutes Relate to Knee Pain
Have you ever experienced knee pain or discomfort? If you haven't had any specific injury to your knee to initiate the pain, have you wondered what is the cause? Often, the cause of the knee pain may be related to weak glute muscles. Let's take a closer look at this association and determine some stretches and exercises to relieve the issue.
How The Knee Moves
The functional motion of the knee joint is like a hinge. It moves forward and backward so that you can engage in activities like walking or running. The hinge also allows for common movements like sitting and standing. One might associate these movements with the quadriceps and hamstrings. But another important muscle grouping that helps to control your knee joint is the gluteus maximus.
Because the gluteus maximus muscle is attached to the back of the pelvis, travels across the hips, then down the outer portion of the leg, we associate the function of the glutes with hip motion. But the glutes do more than that. In activities like lunging or squatting at the gym, for example, the glutes help with the weight-bearing nature of the action. The glutes engage to reduce potential strain to the knees in these motions to reduce pain and injury. If, though, your glutes are not strong or do not activate normally, more stress is placed on the knee joints.
How to Strengthen Your Glutes
There are ways to strengthen your gluteus maximus muscles to reduce your knee pain. Using a glute activation band can be a helpful tool for your intended goals.
Side Step Exercise
Wrap an activation band around your shins to begin this exercise. Laterally step to the right. This action will fire up your hips, abductors, and glutes. Take at least 5 steps to one side, then repeat to the left. Practice 3-5 times on each side.
To fully activate your glute muscles, you can perform a squat exercise using the resistance of an activation band. Wrap the band around your thighs then perform a deep squat. The resistance will help you to keep your knees stable as you perform the squats. This will both strengthen your gluteus maximus and the joints, ligaments, and muscles supporting your knees. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
Remedies for Sore Knees
To compliment your glute strengthening work, you can also do some knee stretches to reduce any residual pain. These exercises actually target the muscles that support the knee joint.
Stand facing a wall; use it to brace yourself in this balancing pose. While standing on your right foot, kick your left foot back and catch it in your hand. Gently move your heel toward your buttocks to experience the stretch in your quads. Hold for at least 30 seconds then perform the stretch on the other side.
Lie on the floor and draw your right knee toward your chest. Then extend your leg into the air. Hold onto the extended leg with your hands and gently move it toward your head to initiate the stretch in your hamstrings. It is ok to keep the knee slightly bent with this stretch. Hold for at least 30 seconds then do the same stretch on the other leg.
By combining these stretches and glute strengthening exercises, you will re-activate weak glute muscles and significantly reduce pain and injury to your knees.