Apparently 30 degrees between your legs is the bridge far enough. That is if you want to focus on your Glutes ( or more correctly Glutei, specifically in the pilates bridge pose). For those ladies and some guys who know two-legged pilates bridge pose according to new research, altering the angle of hip abduction or how far your knees are apart can activate your glutes specifically. The further your legs are apart in a two legged bridge up to 30 degrees. The more you activate your glutes. I have had clients say that with their knees parallel they do not find much Glute activation. A recent study proves this, the closer the knees are together the more you activate your lower back muscles and less the glutes. (Lumbar erector spinae). So for buns of steel try setting your knees 30 degrees apart. If this is a new exercise to you, get a pilates teacher or personal trainer to show you properly.
Why do we need Glute activation?
Well, sitting for 14 hrs a day, travel, and sedentary lifestyles can cause glutes to ‘switch off’. They don’t really stop working ( or you wouldn’t be able to walk), but, they fire out of sequence. What this means is that where a better sequence of firing would be for example, left hamstrings, left glute, right lumbar back muscles opposite to left glute and then right side lumbar back muscles. Instead, you can get hamstring or lumbar back muscles working and taking too much load in hip extension. This can mean that you then get tight painful lower back on one side or both and even upper back shoulder and neck problems as the chain goes upwards. Or you can get over active and tight hamstrings which pull on lower back and make you more suscepctible to hamstring or lower back injury if left untreated. Often lazy glutes can give back pain. Tight adductors on inside of your legs can compromise glute activity as well. Basically the chain of muscle firing from hamstring to back and beyond are designed to fire in a pattern. As with any pattern if it’s off balance, compensations start and injuries can ensue.
What to do next?
If this does make sense to you or you are a bit mystified ask an exercise professional, your pilates teacher, your physio, or drop me an email for a biomechanical assessment if you think this might apply to you. Don’t just sit there on your glutes!
- ‘Modifying the hip abduction angle during the bridging exercise can facilitate gluteus maximus activity’. Kang S-Y, Choung S-D,Jeon H-S. Manual Therapy 2016:22:211-215