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Gluteus Maximus Functions


Gluteus Maximus Functions

Where is the gluteus maximus?
Physical Therapy Exercises

Where is the gluteus maximus?

The gluteus maximus is the large portion of what’s more commonly known as your butt. It’s a posterior chain muscle located on the back-side of your hips. This general region consists of three major areas, all of which serve their purpose: the gluteus minimus, the gluteus medius, and the gluteus maximus. The maximus portion of the glutes are directly behind the hip bones and surround most the hip musculature. Odds are if you’re touching your butt, you’re touching your gluteus maximus; whereas the gluteus minimus and medius are located to the side and tucked away.

What does the gluteus maximus do?

As mentioned previously, the gluteus maximus is the primary mover when you extend your hips. It’s what enables us to stand up after sitting by pushing our hips forward and straightening out our torso and lower body line. It’s also what allows you to bend over and pick things up – if you know how to pick things up properly while not actively rounding and using your back.

You can imagine, if it’s one of the primary movers in standing up, it gets it’s fair share of stretching for sedentary individuals. That’s because, by sitting all day, you’re placing your glutes, the gluteus maximus in particular, in a lengthened state. So it’s being stretched daily in most people. A tight gluteus maximus is actually pretty uncommon. This is why it’s recommended to strengthen your gluteus maximus more than you stretch them!

However, there are cases where stretching is necessary, especially if you want to stretch the gluteus maximus past it’s usual length of just sitting.

How to Stretch Your Gluteus Maximus

By far the best gluteus maximus stretch is actually not a stretch at all. It’s the squat! This exercise kills two birds with one stone if you’re looking to stretch your glutes. It’s a great exercise to strengthen your gluteus maximus, which counteracts the constant weakening by all the sitting being done. But how does it help increase flexibility in the glutes?

One of the better ways to stretch is to contract the muscle being stretched in a lengthened position. This is the theory behind one of the most effective ways to stretch: PNF. The same effect can be had when body or weight training. If you use go to the safe limits of your range of motion in a squat, you end up contracting the gluteus maximus quite hard while it’s in an optimal stretched position. It’ll also simultaneously loosen up the surrounding hip musculature which all interact with the gluteus maximus on a profound level. This explains why athletes like olympic weightlifters have amazing flexibility without doing much traditional stretching. They are constantly squatting, and squatting very deep!

If you’re unable to exercise due to injury or other circumstances, static stretching is always a good option as well. Here’s a list of static gluteus maximus stretches:

Lying Glute Stretch

The beginner version of this stretch is to simply lie flat on the ground and pull one knee to your chess. Keep your back flat to keep tension on the glute.

gluteus maximus stretch - woman lying with knee pulled to chest

Knee to Chest Glute Stretch

Another way of doing this stretch is sit on the ground with one leg extended, cross the other over and pull the knee across and away from your body.

A more advanced form of the lying glute stretch is performed by lying on the ground and crossing one leg over the other knee. You then pull the legs up (do not pull on your crossed knee!). Do not round your back as this will take the tension off your glutes.

Static Lunge Stretch

Assume a deep lunge position and hold it. Do not lean forward. In fact, to increase the intensity of the stretch, lean back slightly and keep an arched lower back. Keep the weight of your forward leg on your heel. To further increase the depth of the stretch, raise the front foot onto a higher surface. This is not a hip flexor stretch, so don’t focus on your back leg too much and keep its knee bent rather than extended.