While watching tv or at competition you witness a bruising tackle, a high block, or major golf drive. How so? Glute strength! The strongest and largest muscle group on the body. In this article I am going to briefly write about why I see that an athlete having strong glutes (maximus, medius, & minimus) is one of the most important things they can have. These are my 3 reasons along with why.
1) Force production
2) Hamstring safety
3) Knee Stability/ACL care
Whether it be running, jumping, throwing, or making a tackle, having a strong posterior chain is of the utmost importance. The strongest and largest of these muscles being the gluteus maximus. This muscle is capable of powerful extension of the hips which is the fundamental movement of jumping, sprinting, and the lower half of a throw. By being able to apply large amounts of force into the ground, an athlete is able to propel more powerfully through a movement ie. a larger stride length, jump height, or forceful tackle. Many elite athletes have very strong (and many times large) glute muscles as evidence of this. Its all physics baby!
Having strong glute muscles also helps reduce the workload of the hamstrings which are also hip extenders. The hamstring muscle is not as strong as the gluteus maximus and by not having strong enough glutes, the hamstring is forced to bare more work which potential helps lead to a tear (along with having weak hamstrings). Having strong glutes helps to reduce the risk of a strained hamstring which is very tough to recover from.
Lastly, an athlete’s ACL is better protected when an athlete has strong gluteus medius and minimus muscles (on the lateral part of the hip). These muscles pull on the long ligament that runs down the outside of the thighs called the Tensor Fascae Latae. By having strong glute muscles to keep this ligament tight (along with strong medial and later quads), the knee joint will be more resilient to landings, cuts, and rotation.
These are 3 reasons I say the gluteus muscles are the most important muscle group for athletes. A strong set of these can help an athlete move stronger and faster, as well as keeps the legs healthy. Two of the most plaguing injuries in sports can have their risk reduced largely by increasing glute strength! Stay tuned for my segment on glute exercises. Citations are below for some further reading. Share your thoughts if you agree or feel differently!
Griffin L, et al: Noncontact Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: Risk Factors and Prevention Strategies. Journal of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2000; 8:141-150
Shirley S. “Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes”. Mosby 2002 pg 139