I have a number of clients who have a hyper active erector spinae, as well as a non-functioning glute maximus. I can get the glute to fire doing a number of exercises, but apart from pressure and trigger pointing, I sometimes can't get a result. Is there anything you could suggest to relax the muscle?
Thank you for your question. To understand the solution to your observation, you first must study the principles of Applied Functional Science. A principle by definition is a fundamental truth. In other words, the principle has been accepted and unarguable. Principles applied to your question are as follows: gravity, ground reaction forces, three dimensional, to name just a few. Let’s now apply the three principles to your question. To get a muscle to “fire,” we must understand how it lengthens during a SPECIFIC task (each task will create different reactions). Let’s use a lunge in the sagittal plane as an example. As the body progresses forward, the foot enters into the ground, creating calcaneal eversion and thus creating the necessary tibial internal to femoral internal rotation that in turn lengthens the gluteus in the transverse plane. In addition, you will observe sagittal plane flexion and adduction at the hip joint. This three dimensional reaction is a result of gravity and the ground reaction force. The key point is, at no time did this reaction call for a conscious contraction. The entire loading of the gluteus happened as a result of it, which means MANY of the tests and strategies created are NOT based on sound principles, rather on traditional anatomy (how muscles fire in isolation). Muscles are designed to subconsciously react, not consciously contract. In addition, it’s not important that a muscle works hard. It needs to work in harmony with the rest of the muscles to produce smooth efficient movement. We should strive for singing muscles, not screaming muscles. To apply to your observation, I would suggest starting at your client’s foot function and assess if he has the proper motion to create optimal loading up through the chain into the gluteus. Often, an under active gluteus and over active erector group is a lack of lower extremity three dimensional loading. To learn more about chain reaction biomechanics and many options for your question, review Gary Gray’s Video Digest Series (click here for details). Tip: Sometimes the cause is a distance away from the problem. Good luck!