Many people develop low back pain as a result of inactivity. Sitting too long at a desk, in the car, or in a recliner eventually results in weakened glutes, the muscles in your butt.
Pain results when the glutes aren’t doing their job, forcing muscles in your core and back to pick up the slack.
The problem is, those muscles aren’t designed to do the hard work the glutes do, and they tire quickly, leading to spasms and pain. A vicious cycle develops– you can’t move due to pain, but not moving is what caused you to develop the pain.
The key is to train the glutes to fire properly when it’s time for them to go to work. Performing one or two of these simple glute activation exercises prior to being on your feet for any length of time may help.
Be careful not to hold your breath as you exercise. Inhale with the first action movement and exhale with the second part.
Glute Activation Exercises
Assume an all-fours position on your hands and knees, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips.
Extend your right arm forward and your left leg back, keeping them even with your hips and shoulders.
Squeeze your left glute as you extend your leg. If it is too hard to balance with both your arm and leg extended, keep both hands on the ground and just extend the leg.
Repeat on the opposite, extending the left arm and right leg, and squeezing the right glute muscles.
Continue, alternating for 10 total repetitions.
Lie down on your back and bend your knees, sliding your feet up as close as you can to your buttocks.
Your arms should be on the floor, extended alongside your torso.
Press your feet into the ground and raise your hips up, contracting your glutes as you lift.
Hold for a count of 2-4, and lower down.
Repeat 10 times.
Supine Leg Extension:
Lie down on your stomach, resting your forehead on your hands.
Bend your right knee so your foot is aimed at the ceiling.
Raise your right knee a few inches off the ground, squeezing the glute as you lift and holding the squeeze for a count of 2-4.
Repeat on the left side, alternating for 10 total repetitions.
If this position bothers your back, try putting a pillow under your hips.
Lie on your side in a fetal position, your head resting on your arm, and your knees bent and stacked on top of each other.
Your knees should be drawn up at 90 degrees to your hips.
Keeping your feet together, lift the top knee, pointing it up towards the ceiling.
Squeeze the glutes as you lift.
You can provide added resistance by pushing against the top knee with your hand, or using a resistance band around your thighs, just above the knees.
Perform 10 repetitions on each side.
This is an advanced exercise. If this version is too difficult, see below for a modification.
Stand with your feet should width apart. Sit down into a deep squat, until your hips are just above the floor.
Place your hands on the floor in front of you and walk them forward, shifting your weight forward as if you are going to start crawling.
When you reach a plank, or push up, position, walk your hands back towards your feet, sitting your hips back into your squat.
Sit back towards your heels, your chest up and arms in front of you. Stand slowly, pressing through your heels and squeezing your glutes as you stand.
Repeat 5 times.
Modification: Stand in front of a chair and lower your hips back until you are seated. Without using your arms, stand up slowly, squeezing your glutes as you stand. When you can accomplish this exercise with a chair, find a lower chair, stool or step to use to increase your range of motion.