You may have heard it in this way, "When you come up from your squat, I want you to squeeze your glutes."
For decades we have been told by fitness professionals on TV, in the gym, and more to do this one thing to make our glutes stronger and appear smaller.
If I told you this thing taught by what I like to believe are well-intentioned professionals actually contributes to hip tightness, pinching in the front of your hips, low back tightness and low back pain to name a few, would you continue to do it?
This thing is squeezing your glutes.
You may have heard it in a combination of 'brace your core and squeeze your glutes' during a bridge exercise as just a couple of examples.
So how does squeezing your glutes have a link to hip tightness, pinching in the hips, low back tightness and low back pain?
Let's take a look at the photos below:
In the first photo of standing posture:
✅ DO THIS: The arrow represents muscles at rest when the glutes are not squeezed. They also represent what this spine and hips should look like with their natural curves and the muscles at a normal length.
❌ NOT THAT: In this photo when the glutes are squeezed along with the abdominals (in the picture) it will put a constant stretch on the low back muscles and the hip muscles in the front as the pelvis is pulled down and forward by the glute contraction. While stretching 'sounds' good, these muscles are being stretched out as a rubber band stretched to the end. Meaning your body will decipher this constant stretch as a feeling of tightness. Because the glute is attached to your femur (thigh bone) when you squeeze the glutes this will drive the thigh bone forward in the hip socket thus further stretching out the front of the hip and that 'pinching feeling'.
In the second photo during a common deadlift pattern:
✅ DO THIS: The arrows represent what the low back and hips should look like at the top of a deadlift pattern.
When loading the exercise correctly (maintaining good alignment of your spine and hips) your glutes lengthen so as you come up from the exercise the glutes are the muscle that will bring you back up, you do not need the extra squeeze at the top, you glutes worked to bring you up to standing without jeopardizing your back or hips joints.
❌ NOT THAT: The arrows in this photo show the non-optimal alignment of the hip and low back along with the excessive lengthening and non-optimal movement created in the low back and front of the hips when squeezing the glutes and thrusting the pelvis forward. And recall from the first photo:
The glute is attached to your femur (thigh bone) when you squeeze the glutes this will drive the thigh bone forward in the hip socket thus further stretching out the front of the hip.
As an Integrative Movement Specialist, one of the first things I help my clients do is recognize habits that may be driving the issues they experience. Once we identify them, we can start to make immediate changes.
So please, stop squeezing your glutes. Your back and hips will thank you.
Wondering how to move through exercise or activities of life and not squeeze your glutes? Reach out and let's get working on it today!