What is the single most important muscle for movement and locomotion
Before you answer that, pause and think – does your answer also apply to “blade runners”, double above-the-knee amputees and those with prosthetic legs? So if you thought of hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and such, how do these inspiring performers do it? If you thought (or now think) core, you are not off the mark. But the question is locomotive muscle or primary mover muscles. It’s the gluteal muscles – the muscles of the buttock! Not only do these muscles define the shape of the derriere, they are the powerhouse that generates the maximum propulsive force needed for locomotion.For cursory understanding, the gluteal muscles are actually a set of 3 – Gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. The Gluteus Maximus is the largest and strongest of the 3 and is responsible for movement of the hip and thigh. Rising from a sitting position, climbing stairs, and staying in an erect position are all aided by the gluteus maximus.The Gluteus Medius muscle is one of the muscles on the side of your hip. It resides underneath your gluteus maximus muscle (buttocks muscle), and works with another small muscle, the gluteus minimus, to help support your hip. In a single leg stance, this muscle works very hard to keep your pelvis in neutral (preventing it and your hip from tilting to one side – Trendelenburg).
It plays a very important role in the walking and running gait cycle because as one transitions from one single leg stance to another, the gluteus medius of the opposite side contracts to keep your body level. The gluteus minimus is one of the secondary muscles that can produce hip extension. Together with the gluteus medius, it steadies the pelvis when the opposite leg is raised from the ground.The glutes are the hardest-working muscles in all-out sprinting, running and in practically all sports. Their importance for balance can be easily gauged too. Given their role, it makes absolute sense and is in fact essential, to incorporate glute strengthening exercises in one’s regular strength training regimen.Their weakness is often a precursor to commonly observed imbalances and injuries. Start with simple isolation training to learn to recognize where the muscles are and slowly incorporate more composite exercises to replicate functional and sport specific demands.Note: A good looking backside could be a very appealing side effect.