Glutes Part 2: Muscles That Are Impacted by a Weak Gluteus Maximus
As I wrote about previously, the gluteus maximus has a tendency to become inhibited. Any time a muscle starts to fire less, other muscles have to work harder to make up for the loss of power in the first muscle. This is true for all muscles of the body, and the gluteus maximus is the same. The gluteus maximus is a very large, powerful muscle – so when other muscles have to kick in for weak gluteus maximus, they tend to get very tight and painful from doing the work of the much larger muscle.
There are certain muscles that have a tendency to kick in and work overtime due to weak gluteus maximus. These muscles tend to work alongside the glute in the hip or sit close to it. The big three gluteus maximus compensators I see in practice are the piriformis (hip muscle), the hip flexors and the QL (lower back muscle).
The piriformis is a muscle that sits in the back of the pelvis and runs from the sacrum to the hip bone. It is so common for this muscle to become tight and painful that it has its own syndrome (piriformis syndrome) associated with a list of symptoms. The gluteus maximus sit directly on top of the piriformis, so when you have weak gluteus maximus, it is very easy for the piriformis to start working for it. This leads to a very tight, painful piriformis muscle which can lead to hip and buttock pain as well as sciatic type pain due to the sciatic nerve running below it.
The hip flexors sit on the front of the pelvis and are antagonists to the gluteus maximus, which means they do the opposite actions. Because of their close proximity in the pelvis to the gluteus maximus, the hip flexors also tend to become facilitated when the glutes aren’t firing. This can lead to anterior hip pain, sacroiliac joint problems and lower back pain.
The quadratus lumborum is a large lower back muscle that runs from the lower ribs to the top of the pelvis. It shares an attachment in the top of the pelvis with the gluteus maximus and is another muscle that tends to become facilitated if you have weak gluteus maximus. A tight QL and weak glute can lead to lower back pain and muscle spasm.
There are certainly plenty of other muscles that will pick up the slack for a weak gluteus maximus, however these three muscles are what I commonly see in my practice.
If you think you’re having issues with getting your glutes to fire or have hip or lower back pain that you think may be associated with weak glutes, feel free to get in touch with my chiropractic clinic. It is important to have a full assessment and then get a treatment plan that is formulated to your body.