Every day when I get to the gym to workout, I start my session with Crossover Symmetry (for shoulder stability & strength) followed by the “Crossover Symmetry for your hips” as one OP member called it this morning, the mini-bands.
Starting out a session by dialing in on specific muscle groups helps to ready those muscles to fire properly when used in a bigger compound movement. Not only do muscles need to be strong and warmed by blood flow to feel their best, but your brain-to-muscle connection also needs to be primed and research has shown that exercises that coordinate a series of smaller muscle movements helps that process, especially when it comes to your glutes.
You have 3 gluteus muscles; Maximus, medius, and minimus. For our maximal strength output, we are going to need to recruit all fibers of all muscles to perform the best! Not only that, but they will need to be recruited at the right times to also prevent any discomfort or potential injury. If the glute-medius isn’t functioning well, the piriformis muscle (which is much smaller as you can see), might have to take too much of the work to externally rotate our leg (like when pressing your knees out during a squat). In that case, that small muscle will get over-worked and irritated and leave us with a literal “pain in the butt”. By implementing the mini-band work into your warm-up routine, you are more likely to get better muscle recruitment for proper movement patterns!
The bands can also help make small strength improvements in our glutes as well, improving their overall tone (level of tightness/mobility) & activity throughout the entire day. If you have tight quadriceps or hip flexors, like most people do from sitting for long duration, it can cause some anterior tilt of the pelvis (left image) which can result in low back pain.
To counteract this movement, along with lengthening the hip flexors, strengthening the glutes will also contribute to pulling the pelvis back into a neutral position. I got to learn and practice this idea of lengthen-then-strengthen antagonistic muscles (a pair of muscles where if one contracts, the other needs to relax), with Bill Boland of BodyFix Method in New York City (http://www.bodyfixmethod.com/) and got to see the immediate pain relief people experienced when this method was used to properly realign the balance between tight & weak muscles.
Another pain-relief improvement from glute strengthening is within the knee. As quads and hip flexors get tight, some internal rotation of the femur occurs as well. This can mess with the alignment where your femur meets your tibia and cause irritation as your patella passes over. Also, if our glutes aren’t strong enough or being recruited properly during most exercises, it can cause extra stress on the knee as it takes too much of the loading rather than our big, strong glutes.
So to help you guys improve your movement quality, muscle recruitment, and glute strength, here is a video I put together (thank you to my model, Trey Steele) of various exercises you can do with mini-bands (now at OP, hanging alongside the TV!). Grab one (green is light resistance, blue is heavy resistance), and do a set of 10-15 of a couple of these exercises before your next workout, especially one including squats, deadlifts, cleans, snatches, lunges, running…so basically any workout we’ll be doing 🙂