In the past month it has been my tailbone that has started behaving so badly that I can barely walk to the kitchen and back. My doctor confirmed that it was sacroiliac joint pain, and while it was likely a major cause of pregnancy hormones loosening my pelvis too much too soon, the problem was exacerbated by the instability and – as I expected – gluteal weakness.
I immediately went searching around YouTube for some exercises that might help. in one video by BodyLove Pilatestrainer Ali Handley engages in a seated muscle exercise with a resistance band wrapped around his calf: As you push your legs out into the belt, you slowly raise and lower your heels while maintaining a steady amount of resistance.
Watch a demo starting at 8:18:
After I followed Handley for only eight reps, I immediately felt the gluteus medius muscles on the outside of my hips build up—and I kept engaged even after I finished. I walked my dog around the block right after, and could feel the muscles still working (aka a slight burn with each step). This activation kept my pelvis more stable and less painful than it had been in over a week.
So I told myself I would repeat the exercise every day. Which means I did it for two days in a row, and then immediately forgot about it.
You know I need to somehow make it a habit. Since this is a simple exercise that doesn’t require a lot of focus, I’ve realized that instead of allocating a dedicated time, I can just incorporate it into my morning routine: Now, when I first sit down to work, I simply wrap a resistance band around my leg for the first half hour (or until I get up for more coffee) and do some heel-lifting every now and then while checking email and Slack. I keep the bracelet next to my laptop to remind me to link to it, and since it doesn’t take extra time out of my day, I actually do.
This might be the easiest exercise routine I’ve ever done. And also one of the most effective. Within a week or so of training it regularly, I could feel those hard-to-target muscles getting stronger, and my pelvis staying still when I walked or run—meaning my joint pain was next to nothing.
I know, I know: it sounds too good to be true. Are these noticeable results all in my head somehow? I posed the question to a NASM Certified Trainer Cecily McCulloughwho works with clients in a fitness-based career studio P. evolvethey ask if this kind of habit can be really effective, or if I just want to Think It’s kind of a placebo effect and I’m experiencing it.
She suggests that working out your butt muscles while seated can be a strategic way to isolate and target the right muscles. “When you’re seated, you get more support for your pelvis and spine, so you’re not working against other factors, like standing or even lying on the floor, and working against gravity,” she says. “And with the seated motion, it’s also a slight range of motion, especially since the bracelet adds resistance.” Even when I don’t care much about raising and lowering my heels, the movement is so small and contained that it’s easy to maintain proper form.
On the other hand, physiotherapist Teresa Marco, DPT, spokesperson for American Physical Therapy Association and the owner Marco’s Physiotherapy In New York City, he says my first exercises won’t get into the glutes quite like squeezing them together and releasing them while seated. Or even better, she says, getting up to move around. “Frequent small breaks can go a long way to relieving problems before they start,” she says.
But as in the cliché, the best kind of exercise is the one you’ll do. Although there are many other ways strengthening my musclesFor now, I’m going to keep doing the thing I hardly think about.
Oh hello! Look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for the latest wellness brands, and exclusive Well + Good content. Sign up for Well +our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.