By Dr. Evan Osar, for Women's Health Foundation
I mean it. I want you to stop squeezing your butt.
One of the biggest misconceptions in the entire health, fitness and rehabilitation industries is that "butt-squeezing" or over-squeezing the muscles in the back of the hip is a good thing. I'm here to explain what that's a misconception.
First, why do so many of us squeeze our butts all day long? There are three main reasons:
1. Pelvic floor weakness: The pelvic floor is part of your core muscle system. The core muscles are the ones that help stabilize your spine and essentially your entire body. When the pelvic floor is weak, you will over-grip or hold your entire backside tight to make up for that weakness.
2. Posterior hip weakness: The posterior hips, mainly the gluteus maximus, is the largest and strongest muscle in your body. It is mainly responsible for keeping you upright, propelling your body forward and providing protection for your backs and knees. When the gluteus maximus is weak, you will instinctively squeeze the hips for stability.
3. Posture and aesthetics: Squeezing the butt will make you appear to have a smaller rear end. You may also have been told to maintain good posture by pulling in the stomach and tucking the butt. And you do that by squeezing the butt. The butt looks smaller, but it also has a flat and long appearance. And tucking the rear end under is a major cause of low back pain.
So, what can we do to stop butt-gripping? There are three main things:
1. Become aware that you are doing it. Stand alone in your house and get a sense of your posture and tension around your body. Now squeeze your rear end as much as you can and relax it fully. That's what it should feel like all the time. If it doesn't, sorry, you're a butt squeezer.
2. Learn how to breathe and use your core better. By breathing properly and using the muscles of the core better, you will not have to over-squeeze the posterior hip muscles.
3. Learn how to move and exercise properly. You must be able to use the muscles of the hip and core properly. There are many resources on exercises for the hips and core. Be sure you get your information on exercise and fitness from reliable sources.
Evan Osar is president of Chicago Integrative Movement Specialists and an internationally recognized lecturer, author and expert on assessment, manual therapy, movement, and exercise. In addition to his chiropractic degree, he has earned national certifications for advanced fitness, exercise and rehabilitation from The Soma Institute, National School for Clinical Massage Therapy. He and his team specialize in partnering with individuals who are looking to be proactive in taking responsibility for their health while working toward achieving their unique fitness and wellness goals.