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Words: Michael Cunico
Photography: Dallas Olsen

I am not sure exactly when it happened, but it seems there was a moment in time where the world decided to become obsessed with the bottom! It seems you can’t open a social media page without the perfect curves of a behind staring back at you. Like many fascinations driven in this world of online – box gaps and 12-week challenges to perfect bikini bodies – it’s nice to hear some reality.

Are the glutes important? Is this an area that only sports models and athletes are required to develop? If they are important for everyone, how can I go about developing my glutes?
Granted it can make purchasing jeans and pants your worst nightmare, but having a strong, well-developed rear will support athletic performance and help reduce injuries. The collection of glute muscles is regularly referred to as the most powerful muscle in the body, playing a large part in propelling the body vertically and horizontally.

The main role of the gluteus maximus, the largest of the glute muscles, is to extend the hip. The other members of the glute family – the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus – mainly contribute to hip stabilisation. All three muscles contribute to external rotation and abduction of the femur, taking the upper leg away from the midline of the body. While the contribution of the glutes in hip extension highlights the importance of these muscles for performance, their job as stabilisers of the pelvis and knee also shows how critical they are for injury prevention.

As stabilisers of the hips, the glute area plays a part in minimising lower back pain. If you were to think of this area of the body as a building, the glutes are the foundation that the lumbar spine, the building, sits on. If you were to build a building on an unstable foundation, it wouldn’t take long for the cracks to appear, literally. Similarly to our building, the lumbar spine also wants a solid base to sit on, and this area will search for stability to allow the extremities and the rest of the body to function.

Speaking of the extremities, the knees benefit from strong glute muscles as well. Strong glutes can help fight off the knee valgus effect – the movement of the femur into adduction, the action of the knee moving toward the midline of the body – commonly seen during eccentric loading. Basically a fancy way of saying that strong glutes will play a role in preventing the knee from collapsing inwards when you descend in a movement such as the squat. Strong glutes can help prevent this action and therefore play a role in preventing knee injuries.

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