So, you know what Glutes are, right? You’ve heard the term, “Gluteus Maximus” (in Middle School I’m sure), right? It’s like your butt muscle or something, right?
First let me state that I am a massage practitioner. Not a doctor, not a scientist, a sociologist, or a banana for that matter. This is all “opinion” from my professional experience and please take that into consideration when reading anything on the internet.
Now then. Radical information to follow.
Your buttocks is a muscle group. Yup, all muscle. There is fat around it and on top of it to varying degrees, but the butt itself is muscle -no matter the jiggle. However, most people don’t think of their behind as muscle, and are often embarrassed at it’s mention . I’ve encountered people who were flabbergasted at the idea that it’s not just “junk” (fat) back there and you would be amazed at the reactions to including the Glutes in a massage (everyone needs this- I mean everyone). All this is because in our culture, there has been a sexualization of this group, and it is talked about and treated almost as a reproductive organ. Case in point:
Kim Kardashian recently posed for Paper magazine in attempt to “break the internet”. The photo was instantly viral and the topic of much conversation and controversy. It was taken as an overtly sexual photo. Why? She showed her Glutes. A muscle group. Imagine that type of reaction to someone flexing a bicep.
Why is this? We don’t do this with any other group of muscles. As much as we glorify Abs, Pecs, and Biceps, those are not treated with the same amount of reservation and intimacy as the Glutes. At this point in society, the buttocks area is off limits to anyone but our most trusted people. It is a sacred, sensual place. But why? To understand how our culture came to revere the almighty caboose, let’s look at what it does.
Maximus, though large in itself, doesn’t work alone. There’s Minimus and Medius, along with Tensor Fascia Lata and several other smaller supporting muscles that you probably don’t care about the names of. These muscles not only give tone and shape as well as cushion, but are essential in an array of functions. The major ones being hip rotation and leg extension, but because of the strength, position, and number of muscles in this group, that translates to walking, sitting, standing, dancing badly, dancing well, going up stairs, jumping, and generally anything involving your legs. You know, the things holding you up all day. So, obviously this is a very important muscle group.
If a particular person didn’t have amazing Biceps, or Abs, they could still function in society in almost every way. Without Glutes, there’s no walking. That’s generally prohibitive. Our ancestors Probably determined having properly formed Gluteal muscles was a requirement for mating (good call, guys). Translation: Somewhere in your family tree, someone could DANCE and it was attractive. Or they had more endurance, more strength, or were generally better at all those modern human things. Whatever it was, it was an attractive trait and over time, the Glutes became synonymous with mating.
“Why should I care if my butt is muscle, fat, or magical awesomeness?” you say. “Everyone is born with the butt they have, and that’s that.” Yeah, not so much.
Yes, each of us is born with different potentials, glutes included. Like any other muscle, however, you have to exercise it, keep it strong, and maintain it’s health. You can even improve the size and shape of it with exercise. If it were just a large, fatty deposit that “your mama gave you”, you could sit away on that couch and never suffer any consequences. That’s not the case. If you let it atrophy, A. your butt will look flabby and flat and Becky will make fun of you, B. you won’t be as good or able at all to do the things you normally do, and C. most importantly, it will likely end up causing you long term problems.
If Maximus and it’s noble friends are weak or dysfunctioning, the weight of whatever you are trying to do just shifts to another muscle that may be ill equipped to deal with it. For example, walking up stairs may become harder as the Glutes become weaker. But you still have to get to the second floor, so maybe you use the handrails more, maybe develop a shoulder problem, maybe arthritis in your hand. Don’t laugh, I see it all the time.
The body works in balance, and when it is put in imbalance, you will compensate and feel it in the form of pain (where I come in). So do your squats (or whatever your Dr. ordered), don’t be embarrassed, (but don’t touch other people’s butts either please), and try to pay attention to your Glutes! They are a BIG part of your life!
Meredith Lynch, RMP
Hands On Call Massage