Stretches of the Month: January Glutes
Every month we will cover specific stretches that will loosen a different part of the body, and for the month of January we will be focusing on the gluteus maximus muscles -- the "glutes." In layman's terms: the butt.
Lyuda already covered the basics behind why stretching is so important for staying healthy -- and stretching out the glutes is particularly vital. The glute muscles are used in virtually any type of exercise you would care to do -- be it running, tennis, or a workout of squats and plyometrics. In the video above, I run through a series of three different stretches that will assist you in loosening this area right away.
If you play a sport that requires side-to-side movement -- tennis, soccer, lacrosse, etc. -- or if you regularly run or workout your legs with weights, you need to keep your glute muscles stretched-out because doing so will help you avoid injury in your legs -- and even more you'll keep your lower back loose.
Upright movement for long periods of time will usually result in a stiff lower back, and keeping the upper leg muscles loose -- specifically the butt and hamstrings (we will cover hamstrings soon) -- will prevent you from suffering from a lower back-related injury. As a tennis player, I am constantly stretching out these areas because I know how important this is for my game.
Regularly stretching the glutes will have a positive effect on getting your hips loose too -- and loose hips are a must for any sportsman or regular gym-goer. Start with the three basic stretches I outline in the video above, and you'll be on your way.
In addition to stretching out the glute muscles, you can also loosen this area by getting regular massage or "rolling out" the upper leg muscles on a lacrosse ball. A lacrosse ball is ideal because it's hard and you can pinpoint specific areas in the muscle due to the fact that it's so small. Get a yoga mat, lay yourself down, and then lean your full body-weight into the areas you feel are tightest.
More on this to come, but one positive aspect of having a partner who's into fitness and regular workouts is that you can massage one another's tight areas at the end of a hard training week. Not only will this prove useful for utilitarian reasons, but with the right massage oil and a perfected ambiance (dim the lights and burn a scented candle), it might very well spark some other healthy activity.