Not stretching upper glutes after a workout? You’re not the only one. Stretching is an incredibly important part of your exercise routine, but it’s also one of the most forgotten, neglected, and ignored.
by CHLOE ALEXANDER on
October 3, 2022
The truth is, performing adequate stretches before and after exercise is the best way to prevent injury, perform well during your exercise routine, and activate your muscles before beginning your workout.
This is even more important when it comes to working out your glutes. Your glutes are inactive most of the time, and it can take longer for them to switch into gear when you begin a workout. Even long distance runners can end up with glute amnesia due to lack of glute activity, leading to strength imbalance and glute inactivation. (Glute amnesia occurs when your glute muscles aren’t engaged enough on a daily basis, and refuse to activate correctly during glute workouts.)
So, why is it so important to stretch your glutes, and what are the best stretching exercises to perform on leg and booty day? Let’s take a look.
Stretching your upper glutes
So, how do you stretch your glutes? Unlike your arms and legs which you can swing, lift, and turn to stretch, stretching your glutes might seem physically impossible. It isn’t – it’s just about finding the right movements that engage your glute muscles while working other muscles at the same time.
Here are some of our easiest glute stretches that you can perform either at home or in the gym:
This stretch can help you to relieve any tension in both your lower back and your glutes. To perform the pigeon pose, sit upright on the edge of a regular dining or office chair, with your feet placed on the ground in front of you and your back straight. Lift one leg up and cross it over the other leg, before slowly bending your back forwards towards the floor, keeping it straight. Repeat several times, before switching legs. This stretch targets your glutes, legs, and lower back, making it perfect for a pre-workout stretch on leg day.
Downward facing dog
You may have already performed this exercise as part of a yoga or low-impact exercise class, but it’s also a great stretch and warm-up movement. To perform the downward facing dog, begin on your exercise mat as if you were about to begin a push up. Then, walk your upper body along the mat (as if you were going to meet your knees) until your body is in a V shape. Hold this movement, before then walking your upper body back down the mat and into the starting position. This move targets your glutes, calves, hamstrings, core, and arms, and is great for a pre-workout stretch when you’re going to be working out both your upper and lower body.
Knee to shoulder
This stretch is great for those in recovery workouts, as it’s incredibly low impact and can help relieve tension in the lower back, upper glutes, and quad muscles. To perform the knee to shoulder stretch, lie on your back with your legs down. Lift one of your knees up to its corresponding shoulder, before twisting it across your stomach to meet the opposite shoulder. Make sure not to force any movements here; go slowly if you’re feeling any muscle tension. Perform this movement a number of times before switching legs and performing the same number of repetitions on the other side.
Figure four stretch
To finish up, the figure four stretch is great for relieving any tensions in the lower body and isolating the glute muscles when performed correctly. To perform this stretch, stand with your feet shoulders width apart and your hands on your hips. Lifting one leg across the opposite thigh, bend your knees together and perform something of a light squat, with your leg still raised across the other. Perform this up to 30 times, although do note that this is quite a complex stretch, especially if you have weak knees. If you have weak knees, stick to mat stretches.
Why is stretching your glutes important?
As mentioned above, your glutes are inactive a lot of the time. Think about it – for those who work in an office, or at a desk, or at a checkout, your glutes are inactive for most of the day. If you take the car to work rather than walk or cycle, your glutes are also inactive when you’re travelling. This means that one of the only times your glutes are active is during exercise, and it can often take a while for them to power into gear.
This means that you might actually spend a good third of your workout actually just warming up and stretching your glute muscles, making all that hard work you performed almost completely redundant. So, how can you remedy this? Stretching! Stretching before and after exercise provides the following benefits:
Benefits of stretching before exercise:
Warms up the muscles
Helps you to perform better during your workout
Increases your energy
Highlights any pain points
Reduces tension and pain linked to tight muscles
Better range of motion during exercise
Promotes better circulation
Helps prevent injury and joint stress
Benefits of stretching after exercise:
Aids post-recovery workout
Safely helps return your heart rate to a normal rhythm post-exercise
Gives your muscles time to recover
Prevents muscle loss
What happens if I skip my stretch?
Skipping a stretch once or twice every now and again isn’t going to have a significant impact on your workout, although you might find that you’re less flexible than usual, with tighter joints. However, skipping your stretch every workout can increase your chances of muscle soreness and injury.
Do I need to stretch before or after a workout?
It’s a good idea to stretch both before and after a workout. Stretching beforehand allows you to warm up your muscles, allowing you to be more flexible during your workout. Stretching after your workout allows your heart rate to slowly descend back to normal levels, and helps you in your post-workout recovery.
I’m Chloe – a body confidence writer here at House of Peach! I help women to feel fabulous in the body they’re in and feel amazing in gym wear – regardless of their body shape and type. Unleash Your Peach.