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STUDIO NEWS - What is the Largest Muscle in Your Body?

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Exercise Options
It is important to maintain a regular exercise schedule, especially in this stressful time of dealing with the pandemic & all its effects on our lives. With this in mind, please realize that the studio is open 3 days a week this summer to provide you with the opportunity to workout in a clean & safe environment. If it’s not possible to come into the studio, I am also available virtually on Zoom for sessions, Private or, if you have someone to work with, a Duet or Trio (& you obviously don’t have to be in the same location). If you’re in a situation that is financially challenging, please contact me so that we can work something out. I would prefer to see you maintain your activity level than forgo it due to finances.
Gluteus Maximus
The largest muscle in your body is the Gluteus Maximus & you may be sitting on it!
I addressed the gluteus maximus in a newsletter several months back as part of the Hip Extensor group, but believe it is worth discussing again since it is such an important muscle. It is responsible for hip extension; assists in laterally rotating the thigh; is used when you stand up from a seated position; assists in walking as the leg reaches out behind you.
As stated in Complete Guide to Foam Rolling: “The gluteus maximus is the muscle that primarily exists to extend the hip, but it often becomes weak and underactive – meaning it simply doesn’t want to do its job. When any muscle becomes underactive, our bodies have an amazing system of helper that kick in. On the other hand, over time this can lead to more dysfunction or injury.  – Kyle Stull, author
This muscle dysfunction is quite apparent when you begin to work with bodies, as Pilates Instructor or Personal Trainer will attest. Personally, since I have always been a fitness enthusiast who has performed 1000’s of squats & lunges in my life, I assumed my glutes were strong. Then I began my study of Pilates, especially on the Reformer, & discovered that I didn’t necessarily know how to fire my gluteals without tactile feedback or resistance.
Before you learn to properly use your gluteals, however, you must first learn where they are. The photo depicts the gluteus maximus, right on the back of the butt. However, I often see people touch the top of their thigh (actually touching their hamstrings) when I tell them to “talk to their glutes” by poking them in order to wake them up & get them to work. This happens more often than what you might expect.
As Mr. Stull suggests, when other muscles (usually the hamstrings in this case) compensate for an underactive gluteus maximus, dysfunction occurs. And over time, an injury is possible.
So what can you do? Start using your glutes. Since they are so big, it is easy to feel them when they work. Place your hands on your butt as you attempt to fire them, & you will be rewarded with feeling the muscle tighten & release. And good exercises to strengthen the glutes? There are so many. As I mentioned earlier, lunges & squats, & there on lots of Pilates exercises: Hip Rolls, Shoulder Bridge, Heel Squeeze Prone (Mat), Footwork, Kneeling 1 Leg Pull, Long Spine (Reformer), Guillotine, Bend & Stretch, Side Kick Stretch (Tower/Cadillac), Forward Step Up, Beats, Jack Knife (Chair), to name just a few. Gluteals are also used extensively in helping to stabilize the pelvis. Think of any kneeling exercise. As long as the glutes are engaged, they will assist in your balance & you ought to be able to feel the length of your hip flexors as a result. One of my favorite examples of glute engagement & hence hip flexor lengthening is on the Reformer in the advanced version of Side Arm Work – specifically Semaphore or in Chest Expansion. Without glute engagement as stabilizers, you’d lose your balance & fall!
I don’t really know why I am so fascinated with the Gluteus Maximus. Perhaps because it is the largest muscle on the body, but probably more importantly because it is so vital in our daily movement & balance. So get your butt moving (pun intended), become aware of your glutes & strengthen them!

 

 


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Video Highlight - Rolldown with Back Extension
This exercise feels so good to the spine. Your muscles go from neutral to flexion, back to neutral & then into extension. As you reverse the movement, the sequence reverses. It just feels so good to mobilize your spine & get the muscles working, creating space between the vertebra & then bringing them closer together.
To see more videos, visit YouTube & subscribe!
Rolldown with Back Extension
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