Oct 10

As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve had some knee issues of late, resulting from eighteen months of fairly intensive aikido training that I did concluding rather abruptly late last year when I tweaked my left one rather severely. Ever since I’ve dealt with low level knee pain in both knees, off and on.

Anyway, for the last year or so, after being cleared by my doctor for all activities, I’ve read many articles on how to rehab knees. They all say “glute activation,” and I’ve thought, okay, yeah yeah yeah, a few glute bridges here and there, but I don’t really sit as much as most people, so I’m sure my glutes are fine, could this really apply to me, I’m special, after all, I mean, I’m a TRAINER for Pete’s sake, sure I don’t need glute activation?

And off I went, gritting my way through workouts that were, to a greater or lesser extent, painful on my knees, alternately thinking, “I’ll be fine soon,” “This will never get better, so I’ll just have to suck it up,” and “I’m officially ignoring this pain and pretending it’s not there,” and “Come on, what am I, a wuss?” Standard guy-speak when dealing with physical limitation.

But a few weeks ago I decided to actually give this glute activation stuff a real try. To put it to the test, really, to prove to myself and the world that it would do NOTHING to improve the state of my knees so I could happily return to my denial/resignation cycle.

It was a bit of a rampage: X band walks, glute bridging of various kinds, figure-4 lying knee raises, a few other moves. All told, I was doing about 100 reps per side per day.

And guess what? Knee pain preeeeeetty much gone.

As luck would have it, I ran into this article yesterday on T-Nation in which the author says this about powering up the glutes:

…crush – and I mean crush – your glutes with an absurd amount of joint-friendly volume…Aim for a minimum of 100 repetitions per day, topping out at 300 for those with the dedication.The big question is, “When can I start to reincorporate squats?” The answer is whenever your mind-muscle connection borders obsession. If you’re not feeling your glutes when you walk up steps, get in and out of your car, and stand up from the toilet, you’re not quite “there.”

This is as good an explanation as I’ve heard of the amount of reconditioning movement you REALLY need to do to affect change in habitual movement/muscle activation patterns of ANY kind. It’s got to border on obsession. Not forever–just for awhile, till the pattern gets worked out.

That seems to be what finally worked for me.

I don’t think that PT’s and trainers really emphasize this enough: that it’s got to be a project, something you focus on and commit to for a length of time in order for the solution to take hold. Three sets of desultory hyperextensions once a week will NOT solve a glute activation problem. The solutions to our fitness problems are often not complicated.

But you do have to DO them.

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