I have osteoarthritis in my knees. One is damaged from an injury back in high school, the other has simply aged and has developed arthritis. I am trying to avoid knee replacement surgery so I consulted with a physiatrist about my situation. She prescribed physical therapy and what a HUGE difference it has made for me. After dealing with the after-effects of an injury for the past 30 years, I've been doing exercises that are easily incorporated into my normal fitness routine and have made me stronger.
One of the biggest ah-ha moments I've had in therapy is that by strengthening the muscles in my hips, thighs and glutes I can relieve the pressure on my arthritic knees and help prolong the amount of time I can stay active and avoid a knee replacement. I was very surprised that even though I work out regularly, I am still weak in the hips, thighs and glutes.
Not surprisingly (and probably like most women) I am a cardio junkie. It has only been within the past couple of years I've started to focus on building strength. The most frequent activity I've been doing to build strength is mega-former. It is a 45 minute class that works the entire body with resistance training. I've definitely noticed I've gotten stronger but I can only take the class two days a week due to my schedule and my glutes need to get stronger.
When I started going down this path, I (of course) Googled why glute srength is important. Symmetry Physical Therapy explains that strong glutes are important to reduce back pain, reduce knee pain (duh) and to increase power and athletic performance. When your glutes are strong, you'll have proper pelvic alignment, propulsion when running and the ability to balance on one leg.
Shape magazine states, focusing on the glutes reinforces the hip region, but also the quads and your ACL and VMO muscle, which surrounds and support the knees. Strong glutes equals strong knees! So I am sold on the fact I need to build the strength in my glutes in order to help my knees last for a long time.
Now, I have to do the work! The exercises I've listed below are a combination of those I learned at physical therapy and those that I found by searching for ways to increase glute strength. I hope you find them helpful. Of course, before you start any fitness routine, you should check with your doctor. The exercises I've listed below are approved for my situation. So be safe and check with your doctor before starting any program.
If you try any of the below or incorporate them into your routine, let me know how it is working for you! Also, feel free to send me a tweet @hlhurst or tag me in an instagram post @heatherleehurst. If you liked this post and want to receive free information about healthy living and eating, follow my blog on Bloglovin.
1) SQUAT WALK WITH A BAND. I love this exercise! Once I was taught how to do it, I was in love! The reason I love it - you can feel your glutes working and burning as you do it. The key is to resist the band slowly while you maintain a squat position and walk sideways. It took me a couple of times doing the exercise to actually get it right. I found a variation of the squats I do (I only do side walking like a crab) that combines a forward walk as well. I plan on adding that variation to my routine as well. Click here for the instructions on how to do the squat walk.
2) SINGLE LEG DEADLIFT WITH A MEDICINE BALL. I practice yoga and while it has helped me with balance, flexibility and strength, I need to amp up some of my favorite poses with weights. That is why I love the single leg deadlift with a medicine ball. I am really good at Warrior 3 and this exercise helps me with balance and by adding weights, increases glute strength. Click here for the instructions on how to do this exercise.
3) LONG AND LEAN LIFT. This is a fun exercise because it works the glutes and requires balancing and arm strength. This exercise can be done in the gym or at home. When you are getting stronger add some ankle weights to keep the burn going! Click here for the instructions on how to do this exercise.
4) BRIDGE WITH LEG EXTENSION. I always did bridge in yoga class but never really though of it as a potential glute strengthening exercise. This bridge position with one leg in the air really recruits the glutes and I definitely feel a burn when I do it. Holding it is the key! That is where the strength comes in. If you rush through it, you won't feel the burn. Click here for the instructions on how to do this exercise.
5) GLUTE KICKBACK. You may know this exercise as the donkey kick. It is a great exercise to do where ever - the gym or at home. As you advance and get stronger, you can add ankle weights to continue to build muscle. Click here for the instructions on how to do this exercise.
I hope you enjoyed learning about why strong hips and glutes are important. If you practice any of the exercises regularly, let me know about your experience. If you'd like to get free information about healthy living and eating, follow my blog on Bloglovin.