The buttock, the derrière, the bum, the can, the posterior, and many more nicknames abound for the gluteus maximus, the largest single muscle in the body. The gluteus maximus is a vital supporter of both the lower back and the legs. With normal mechanics, the gluteus maximus powers our bodies with walking, stair climbing, and transitional movements such as getting up from a chair.
If the gluteus maximus becomes dysfunctional, all sorts of bad things can happen, ranging from ankle tendonitis and knee pain to lower back issues and sciatica. Sitting in an office chair all day is the single largest factor that leads to a decline in this muscle’s function.
How do you know if your gluteus maximus is functioning well? Try this simple test.
- Lie flat on your back and place a pillow under one of your legs.
- Place your hand under the gluteus maximus on the same side as the pillow.
- Try to contract / tighten your buttock muscle on that side and use the buttock contraction to pull your leg down into the pillow. You should be able to feel the gluteus maximus muscle contract with force into your hand.
- Compare the contraction strength of the buttock to the other side by performing the same test.
If you cannot actively contract the gluteus maximus muscle in this position, you have a problem. Many people will also notice a difference between the contractile strengths of the left and right sides.
I have recommended countless patients to start with the above test as a “starter exercise” to regain function of a weak gluteus maximus. Try performing 2 sets of 10 repetitions daily for several weeks and see if you notice an improvement. Pay particular attention to your weak side!
Below is a demonstration of the exercise. Click here to view our newly modified gluteus maximus exercise.
Tammy myers says
I recently had two labrum tear surgeries within five months on the same hip. My back,under my buttocks all the way down my leg is thriving with pain even my ankle. I ride the bike it eases up. I walk with a moderate limp. The doctor won’t send me to a therapist can you help
Dan Baumstark, MSPT, CHT says
In most states you can directly access physical therapy without a doctor’s prescription. Your other option is to ask your primary care physician for a PT prescription. Either way it can’t hurt to get an evaluation.
Wow that sounds terrible! Im so sorry you are going through this. It took over 2yrs for doctors to figure out i had a torn labrum…it was awful living w that pain for that long. Im on 7mos post surgery starting to work out again finally, but i was told the total recovery process takes about a year! I absolutely cannot believe your surgeon wont help or advocate for you. I wish you well, and my heart goes out to you.