I know everyone wants to have glutes that look nice, but these three muscles (gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus) are more than just for looks. They are some of the most important and under-appreciated muscles when it comes to injury prevention and treatment. Here's the rundown on why your glutes are more than just vanity muscles.
Your glutes are one of the most important trunk stabilizers in your body.
This means they're responsible for keeping you upright against gravity's desire to pull you over. Your glutes should be firing whenever you are on your feet. If they aren't, this leads to overuse of your low back muscles, a common cause of low back pain.
Gluteus medius strength is the key to keeping your knees happy and healthy.
Knee stability commonly starts at the hip with the help of your most powerful hip abductor, the gluteus medius. When we are walking, running, and so on, your "glute med" keeps your pelvis level and thus keeps undue stress and compression off of the knees. If you aren't using the glute med, you are also likely to overuse your hip-abductor muscle, leading to restriction and pain through the hips.
Without proper recruitment of your glutes, your hamstrings will be tight and painful.
If we are tight through our hips, resting in an anterior pelvic tilt, we can't get our glutes to engage in hip extension properly. This means that we can't use these powerful muscles to help us push off when we are running, playing sports, or even just climbing the stairs. We then have to rely on our other hip extensors, mainly our hamstrings, to pick up the slack. As a result, we become restricted through the overworked hamstrings, and they feel tight. This can contribute to back pain, hip pain, and even knee pain. Bottom line: The glutes are key.
Here are some things to try to increase your glute recruitment, decrease your risk of injury, and ultimately increase your strength.