It took me 3 years to fix my glute imbalance.
Why did it take me so long to fix a problem that could’ve been fixed in less than 3 months?
Because I followed the wrong advice.
Ironically, most of this advice was given to me by health and fitness professionals: Whenever I told them that I was having trouble feeling my left glute activate, they would just tell me to stretch and do some glute isolation exercises.
So I would go home and religiously follow the routines that had been prescribed for me.
Weeks and months would pass, and although I felt more fit, I still couldn’t feel my left glute activating properly.
I remember feeling really frustrated and thinking, “Maybe I just need a new routine… Maybe I just need someone who will truly understand me.”
So I would go from personal trainer to personal trainer, physiotherapist to physiotherapist, trying out all these different routines, but with little sign of improvement. I wasted a ton of money, but what’s worse is all the time that I lost.
Why did it take me so long? What exactly was wrong with the advice that I was given?
Too much emphasis on exercise. Not enough emphasis on stretching.
After assessing my body mechanics and noting what was wrong, these professionals would prescribe me routines that were more or the less the same.
They all thought, “Hey! Your glute isn’t activating, so lets just slam that glute with endless isolation exercises!
What ended up happening was a lot of time spent in the gym, doing clamshells, abductions, bridges, and the like.
Eventually, 3 years had passed, and my left glute still felt the same.
It was at this point that I was ready to give up.
But I knew I couldn’t.
I decided to see one more health professional (seemed like the right choice after all this time, right?).
Who exactly did I see?
A god-damn chiropractor.
My mindset going into this was “Ok, I’ve worked with various personal trainers, physiotherapists, and kinesiologists. The only people who I haven’t seen yet are chiropractors and message therapists.”
So I looked up the best chiropractor in town, and booked an appointment with the little glimmer of hope that I had left.
When I finally met this chiropractor, he was very quick and thorough in his assessment of me. He noted that he could feel both my glutes activating just fine, but informed me that sometimes people can’t feel their muscles activating because they are simply too tight.
He prescribed three simple glute stretches for me, and told me to do them everyday. He also said that I could stretch out my hips and hamstrings.
But the most important instruction that he gave me?
ABSOLUTELY NO WORKING OUT
He told me that I’ve been doing my body more harm than good during these past years.
When you workout, your muscles become tight. That’s why it’s recommended that you stretch after your workout to relieve the soreness.
But with someone whose muscles are so tight that they can’t even feel them activating, no amount of exercise can get those muscles to activate, because they are simply just TOO TIGHT.
In this case, any targeted exercise will just make that muscle MORE TIGHT.
So if you’ve tried every single glute exercise in the world, and you still can’t activate your glutes, then maybe you are just too tight.
In that case…
STOP WORKING OUT AND JUST STRETCH!
After 4 weeks of doing nothing but stretching, I was able to regain some feeling in my left glute. After 6 weeks, I was granted permission to start performing single-legged squats. And after just 8 weeks, I was able to squat again, this time with my left glute actually activating!
And to think, that after all this time, the solution was that simple!
I guess when it comes to activating your muscles, the saying “less is more” holds true.
If your glutes are extremely tight, then no amount of isolation exercises can ever get your glutes to activate until you take the time off to stretch.
Once your glutes and surrounding muscles are all loosened up, and you can actually do butt squeezes without feeling your other muscles helping out, then that’s when you are ready to perform isolation exercises to STRENGTHEN that glute.
So always remember: RELEASE FIRST, STRENGTHEN SECOND.
Stay disciplined with your stretching routine and in a month or so, your body will be thanking you.
Until next time,