I have lost count of the number of times a patient has asked me
“What’s that ? Is that muscle?”
as I’ve palpated and located an especially tight or shortened area in a gluteal or piriformis muscle.
“This is your engine room” I rell them. Look at the fastest men and women in the Olympics 100m race. The fastest players at the World Cup. Chances are that they will have worked hard to get strong here.
These muscles have the largest cross sectional area in the body and generate force through the hip. This in turn has a massively beneficial effect on the knee and lower back health.
Knee stability is directly controlled by what’s going on above it at the hip. If the glutes work well together with the hamstrings this can reduce over extension of the lower back.
Specific glute strengthening is an important part of long term injury prevention and can take the form of either bilateral ( both legs) or unilateral work. Simple weight bearing exercise in Bridges and quadraped ( all fours) can help muscles that are particularly weak. Progression can take the form of moving on to exercise such as kettle bell swings or single leg bridges both of which are more challenging.
Below are a couple of links to videos off the BBC sport website. These incorporate a selection of simple yet effective strengthening exercises for hips/glutes.