My mum used to say that she never needed a cushion when sitting on an uncomfortable chair or bench as she always carried her own padding around with her. Those with substantial behinds may be thankful at times when challenged by austere furniture but we all need to pay more attention to our backsides. The gluteal muscles are critical to posture and performance. Their many functions include stabilisation of the pelvis during standing, walking, and running. Many clients come to me with lower back pain but it's their glutes that are the source of the problem not the back muscles.
Of course, it's not just the glutes that need to be strong – if the abdominals are weak, for example, this imbalance can create excessive lumbar curvature that can reduce the shock absorbing qualities of the spine. This is why core training is so important.
But glutes tend to be neglected in strength training and missed out altogether when it comes to stretching. An all-too-common result of excessive sitting is weakness and chronic tightness in the gluteal muscles, and poor posture. Many of my clients admit to having poor posture and too many think it's a question of trying to sit up straight. Unfortunately, changing posture is hard work and it can mean exercising in ways you've never done before. If you sit at a desk all day long, your posture is going to be severely challenged - the pecs tighten, the shoulders roll forward, the upper back arches, the glutes become weak and tight. Strength training and stretching will help put you right - together with the odd deep-tissue massage to break down the muscular tensions that build up and limit postural health and function.
Just one word about training the glutes. Don't train these muscles as if they existed in isolation. The glutes extend the hip, so their antagonists are those muscles that flex the hip, such as the psoas. So when training the glutes, always train and stretch the hip flexors too - especially the psoas which is a very special and important muscle I'll write about soon.
In the meantime, keep working on getting your bum in good shape and prepare yourself for the admiring glances – even if they're only yours in the mirror.