Book review: Unbeatable Buttocks
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Title: Unbeatable Buttocks for Injury Free Performance
Author: Various contributors
This handy little book is actually a collection of articles from an impressive range of contributors that includes strength and conditioning coaches, physiotherapists and orthopaedic specialists. Between them, the articles develop a thorough and broad ranging argument why we should all pay much much closer attention to our buttocks, above and beyond the admiring glances reserved for the likes of those belonging to Pippa Middleton.
There’s everything from a summary of the latest research findings to a full exercise programme, including how to make a detailed assessment of the functional integrity of the gluteals and clarification of what is meant by Piriformis Syndrome, as well as how to test for it. Weak gluteals can be a source of low back pain and knee pain, including conditions such as patellofemoral syndrome and Achilles tendinosis, but the diagnosis and treatment may require more subtlety than you might imagine. For example, Raphael Brandon makes the point that although an athlete may demonstrate good gluteal strength in a squat or leg press, the same muscles may still not stabilise the hip effectively in an extended position with the hip in neutral. Effectiveness has more to do with multi-directional stability and Chris Mallac’s piece on the posterior chain demonstrates why, when that stability is lacking, the pain is not actually in the bum, but elsewhere.
As well as being a source of chronic pain, weak or deactivated gluteals can expose the body to acute injury, and Scott Smith’s case study demonstrates how failure to recruit the gluteus maximus properly, caused a goalkeeper to injure his quadriceps. If you’re a rugby fan, you may recall England’s Jonnie Wilkinson suffering a serious groin injury and subsequent chain of re-injury from which he couldn’t recover. Eventually a Norwegian specialist analysed his running and kicking technique and recognised that a deactivated gluteal meant his long-suffering adductors were doing all the work. Are you or your athletes quite literally sitting on a similar time bomb? The information in this book will help you prevent such injuries and ensure complete rehabilitation if they occur.
As both a runner and a therapist, I found this book a very useful addition to my reference library. Occasionally the different contributors repeat each other, but as each of them is writing with a slightly different perspective, the result is a thorough analysis that’s very readable and is easy to dip in and out of. We do have a tendency to think of our backsides as merely a cushion for sitting on; these experts leave no room for doubting that we should treat them with rather more focus!
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