Monday, 23 February 2015

The Vital Glutes: A Review

It was the second or third week working with a local rugby team that one of the prop forwards came to me by the side of the pitch and asked if I had anything I could put on his aching back. It was a late summer day and the ground was dry, so I told him to lie down on his back and I'd have a quick look. I did a simple stretch of his hamstrings and glutes and asked him to stand up and tell me if anything had changed. To his surprise the pain had gone and he announced to all the other players that it was wonderful, I'd put him on his back, bent him over and fixed his back! It took a while for the laughter and suggestions to die down from that one!

I did this simple stretch because ever since I trained as a therapist I'd become aware of the connection between lower back pain and tight muscles around the hip. I've seen a number of client respond well to working through this chain of muscles.

John Gibbons's book "The Vital Glutes" confirms the importance of these muscles in addressing not just power back pain but many other issues that may have a connection to weak or inhibited, misfiring gluteal muscles.

The book looks at the functional anatomy of both GMax and GMed after exploring muscle imbalance and myofascial slings. There are some really helpful insights for both understanding what might be at the root of a presenting issue and for clinical practice.

The book also has quite a detailed discussion of the gait cycle in the context of the role of the glutes. At the end of the book there is a section showing a wide range of progressive exercises that can be used with clients in rehabilitation.

As a Sports and Remedial Massage Therapist I found this book accessible and definitely worth the read. I shall go back through it, picking out useful points and ideas for my practical work with clients. Yes, there are parts that will tax your brain as you try to get your head around things like force and form closure and the gait cycle if you haven't done that sort of stuff before. But it's certainly not beyond the scope of most massage practitioners who studied at a reasonable level and know their way around the anatomy and physiology they learnt as a student.

For most therapist anatomy is learnt in terms of origins, insertions and action of individual muscles, but muscles don't work in isolation. This book should convince you that understanding the wider picture of movement and the influence of one muscle on another is something in which you should invest some thinking time.