As of late I have noticed an unnerving pattern, each time I am asked which muscle group I am training and I reply with “posterior chain,” I am at the receiving end of either a blank look or a cheeky smirk. Gentlemen, if you have an impressive most muscular from the front and you leg press 30 plates, I respect you. If you then turn to the side and I lose sight of you, I’m not mad I’m just disappointed.
What is the posterior chain? The posterior chain is simply the backside of your body and its primary muscles include the lower back, gluteus maximus (glutes), hamstrings, and calves. This area is often neglected and misunderstood. There are two main reasons why. The first reason is many people sit 8-10+ hours per day. Because of the seated position the quadriceps/psoas become adaptively short and tight, further inhibiting the glutes.
The glutes then suffer amnesia to their primary role as hip stabilizer and extensors. The second reason the posterior chain is neglected is that none of these muscles are seen in the mirror. Out of sight out of mind, we only seem to notice when we are trying on jeans or the dreaded swimsuit. May be you do strength training, yoga, or running, etc …but the glutes are not reflecting all the hard work; so the question is…are you really working them?
Although the posterior chain consists of the low back, glutes, hamstrings and calves, the focus here will be on the function and importance of the glutes. When the glutes become inhibited the posterior chain is not functioning properly. The low back and the hamstrings then have to take on the work of the glutes, and along with these muscles being overworked the IT Band, TFL plus the piriformis also take on an additional load, leading to a whole cascade of low back, hip, knee, ankle, and foot problems.