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Why Squeezing Your Glutes Doesn’t Work

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Jessica Bento, Physical Therapist (Creator DVRT Restoration Certification, Knees Over Toes Course, DVRT Rx Shoulder, Knees, Pelvic Control, & Gait Courses)

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Squeeze the glutes, activate your lats, engage your core…all these are cues I hear coaching and therapists using. Don’t get me wrong, I even used some of these but do they really work?
Not really, most people don’t even know where their lats are, or how to engage their core properly. Squeeze the glutes, that doesn’t do much either. I mean, I know that people can “feel” their glutes more, however, that doesn’t mean they work at the right time or are working the right way because if you consciously have to squeeze the glutes, chances are it is really way too late for them to contribute to the movement. Plus, squeezing your glutes is something you can only do at the top of the lift, how are your glutes working the rest of the time during the exercise?
The drivers of your glutes are really your feet. The glutes don’t work during your day by you squeezing them, but the action that is created by the feet up the chain of the body. I know you have read time and time again in our DVRT blogs the importance of the feet but I thought it was worthwhile to do a blog just on the foot so you have a great appreciation of how important the foot actually is.
You see how your feet are going to drive pretty much up the chain of your body. 
As stated in my last post (you can read HERE), there are  A LOT of bones and muscle in the foot, just over 25% of the bones in your body can be found in your feet. So that kind of makes them important. The foot has a significant influence on the entire kinetic chain.  Yet, I never hear many people cuing the feet or focusing their attention on feet when it is actually easy to get people to move better just by cuing the foot vs all the other things you hear people scream at their clients.
Like physical therapy Gary Gray always says, ” When the feet hit the ground, everything changes.” In fact this title was used for an entire course of his!
Starting from the ground up just makes sense so how do we cue the feet and how does it help with our training?
If we don’t have good ground engagement or foot stability the rest of the chain will make up for it and compensations are going to start to appear. You see this with something like squatting. If an individual doesn’t know how to create stability at the foot you will start to see things like the knees collapsing in or an increase in trunk lean. Just simple giving the cue. ” grip the ground with your feet, ” can change everything, of course being able to feel the ground is important that is why I do like barefoot training from somethings and or a minimus type of shoe. Teaching people to just use their feet can really change things.
You might have also seen me use bands. Bands are great feedback tools where you don’t have to verbally cue your clients to the degree most think. Placing a band under the foot helps people to understand how to grip the ground or placing around both feet allows that individual to create the tension we are looking for.
Below are some examples and I urge you to give it a try, maybe someone that is stuffing with their squat and see what happens.
Also for those that really lack the ability to control their toes a simple exercise can go a long way.  I am all for strengthening your feet. Doing activities like marble grabs, towel curling, have long been foot strengthening activities we have been using in therapy for decades. The difference is being just barefoot and doing so with a purpose.
Since your feet impact basically EVERYTHING up your body’s chain, it makes sense we want to strengthen them, but to do so in a intentional and progressive manner. If done RIGHT, then you can help chronic knee, hip, and even shoulder issues. 
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