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Improve Your Gluteus Maximus Function and Get Rid of Hip and Back Pain

In this post: By improving your gluteus maximus function, you could get rid of your hip and back pain. Here’s everything you need to know to make this muscle stronger.

a pin featuring a drawing of the gluteus maximus muscle

Call it what you will–gluteus maximus, butt, bottom, boo-hiney, biscuits–this muscle is crucial for many sports like running and for daily essentials like standing from a seated position.

The gluteus maximus is also a core muscle that helps balance your abdominals. This means if your glute max is weak, so are your abs.

Weak core muscles (like the gluteus maximus and abdominals) can lead to pain–specifically in the hips and back.

Here’s everything you need to know to improve your gluteus maximus function, increase your strength, and permanently kiss your hip or back pain goodbye!

But first, you need to learn where exactly the muscle is so you can identify any painful spots that might need your attention.

If you have hip or back pain that’s preventing you from living the life your dreams, I have great news for you–I created a course to teach you how to permanently ditch your pain. Enrollment for Spinal Rejuvenation is currently closed, but I would love to send you a FREE guide to hip pain relief while you wait for this course to open.

Where is the Gluteus Maximus?

a drawing of the gluteus maximus muscle
Thanks to Kenhub for the image.

The origin of the gluteus maximus is on the outer surface of the ilium and posterior surface of the sacrum and cocyx. This includes the sacroiliac joint (tailbone).

Think of it this way, your gluteus maximus muscle begins all around the top edge of the back of your hip. It even begins on a portion of your tailbone.

The insertion is on the upper posterior area of the femur (thigh bone) in a spot called the iliotibial tract of the tensor fascia lata muscle. This means the gluteus maximus inserts high up on the back of your thigh bone.

What Does It Do?

The gluteus maximus extends and laterally rotates the hip joint. That’s the fancy way to say that it reaches your leg behind you and also helps rotate your leg so your kneecap faces out to the side.

This is particularly noticeable when running. Your gluteus maximus is the muscle that activates to bring your femur (thigh bone) behind you for the posterior component of your stride.

The gluteus maximus also extends your trunk. For example, when you stand up from a seated position, it is your gluteus maximus that fires.

All of the gluteal muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) work together to abduct and medially rotate the hip joint. This happens every time you take a step. In Functional Anatomy of Yoga, David Keil says:

“Every time we take a step forward, we have to stabilize the pelvis and torso relative to the leg. As we walk, our center of gravity shifts from both legs to one leg. As a result, the bulk of our weight pulls us off the standing leg towards the other side of the body. This pull on our body happens primarily at the hip joint. The glutes on our standing leg contract and stabilize the hip. Through their stabilization, they prevent adduction at the hip. If they didn’t contract, we would fall over or we would walk more like primates, throwing our weight from side to side when upright. You could say that preventing adduction is equal to creating abduction even when there is no actual movement occurring.”

Spinal Rejuvenation can teach you how to permanently relieve your hip and/or back pain from the privacy of your own home!

What Happens When the Gluteus Maximus Malfunctions?

As with all muscles, I’m sure you could sprain, strain, or tear the gluteus maximus. However, most of the issues from this muscle are simply from tightness or dysfunctional movement patterns.

As we learned when studying the psoas and rectus femoris (one of the quadriceps muscles), any time you have a tight muscle that connects to the pelvis, you can have an imbalance or instability in the pelvis. This can result in pain in hips, back, and knees.

How to Improve Your Gluteus Maximus Function

A long time ago, someone told me that muscular tightness is the same thing as muscular weakness. Any muscles that are tight are also weak and vice versa.

That’s why you need to do a mix of strengthening and stretching exercises and poses to improve your gluteus maximus function.

My favorite glute max strengthening exercises and yoga poses are:

There are, of course, tons of other Pilates exercises and yoga poses you can do to strengthen your gluteus maximus.

In order to stretch your gluteus maximus, try:

Want to Learn More?

If you’re researching the gluteus maximus function today because you have some hip or back pain that you’re trying to get rid of, you’re in luck! I’ve created a course to teach you everything you need to know to permanently ditch hip and back pain. Click here to check out my Spinal Rejuvenation program.

Kenhub.com is a leader in human anatomy-related information. To learn more about the gluteus maximus, check out their post. It also includes a video!

You can also check out David Keil’s post, “Gluteus Maximus,” or his yoga anatomy book, Functional Anatomy of Yoga. (When you buy this book through this link, I earn a small commission.)

To learn more about the gluteus maximus and other muscles in your body, check out The Concise Book of Muscles by Chris Jarmey. (Again, if you make a purchase through this link, I earn a small commission.)

If you have hip or back pain that’s preventing you from living the life your dreams, I have great news for you–I created a course to teach you how to permanently ditch your pain. Enrollment for Spinal Rejuvenation is currently closed, but I would love to send you a FREE guide to hip pain relief while you wait for this course to open.

What do you do to strengthen your gluteus maximus? What do you do to stretch it? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi! I'm Sarah, and I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. When I'm not working with clients, I'm researching the best ways to get rid of pain. Do you want to learn how to practice yoga and Pilates safely in your own home? Or, do you want to know all my tips and tricks for pain relief? Join my mailing list and receive free goodies to help you.

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