The gluteal muscles (“glutes” for short) ensure that your back, legs, and knees are not taking on too much pressure.
We often spend hours working on getting those glutes looking great, but that can lead us to overlook what’s important – avoiding injury.
While you may not always notice the impact your glutes have in your daily life, I promise you they are working hard in everything you do. We need to make sure we are looking after them so they can do their part.
What is the Glutes Stretch?
Exactly as it sounds, the Glutes Stretch is an essential movement designed to stretch your gluteal muscles.
Glutes stretches are particularly good for runners. When running, our glutes are responsible for holding our pelvis in place and controlling our hip extension, which is what propels your feet and legs forward.
Lack of use (sitting down all day) as well as overuse (from running too much) can both lead to tight glutes.
So, whether you’ve just done a 5k or you haven’t moved from your desk all day, it is always a good idea to stretch your glutes regularly.
This stretch is also quite great for those who are less flexible as it's easy to learn, and you can deepen the stretch according to your level of flexibility.
What muscles does the Glutes Stretch target?
This particular Glutes Stretch targets all your major glute muscles - gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus.
The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus are the three key muscles that get you running and walking as they provide you with stability and easy movements.
Even if you are not a regular runner, this exercise will still have great benefits later in life. By keeping your hips active, they will become stronger and more flexible, preventing the possibility of injury.
How do I properly perform a Glutes Stretch?
To perform a Glutes Stretch correctly, start by lying down with your shoulders on the ground.
With your feet on the ground, bend your knees. Place one ankle on the opposite knee and pull this knee towards your chest.
Then repeat this movement with the opposite leg to stretch the other glute.
A good reference point is to hold the stretch for approximately 30 seconds; however, you can always hold the stretch for a shorter or longer period depending on your needs, or how tight your muscles are.
Additional things to keep in mind when training
If you are dealing with particularly tight glutes, try holding the stretch for 30s and then moving onto the other leg and repeating that set, rather than holding the stretch for an extended period of time on one leg.
Another tip to loosen those glute muscles is to do this stretch in conjunction with foam rolling. Massage your glute muscles by simply sitting on your foam roller and rolling back and forth slowly over the muscle.
You can perform a deeper muscle stretch by combining these two exercises together. Once sitting on the roller, cross your right ankle over your left knee and then tilt towards that bent leg and start to roll. This helps you get deeper into your glute muscle. Again, make sure to do both sides.
As with any stretch or exercise, if you are feeling “bad” pain in your legs and glutes, stop or alter this to a point where you’re feeling the stretch but not in unnecessary pain.
Exercise overview by David Weiner, Training and Nutrition Specialist