The holiday bottom line

Did your Thanksgiving meal slide below your waist? Have you checked? Unless someone points out your "bottom line," you have no concept what's following you around. The only time you consider how much you are carrying behind you is when you have to sit on it for several hours. The concept seems to be if you can't see it, it doesn't exist.

Too much, too little, too loose, too flat, it jiggles, or it won't jiggle - I've heard it all. Men may talk about women in the locker room, but women will also discuss the condition of their derriere, or the condition of someone else's. Every bottom, whether male or female, is structured with the same muscles. Women just have more of it all the way around. Darn! Anyway, let's talk a bit about the ability to do a little restructuring for aesthetic purposes.

Within the bottom are muscles known as the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. Under the base of the bottom is the biceps femoris muscle of the upper leg. There are groin muscles and hip flexors that also interact with the bottom, but for now let's just be concerned with the part of you that jiggles.

The gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus muscles move the thighbone in all directions, except adduction. They get a workout with walking or running. And they add stabilization to the foot on landing.

When you do your running uphill, you incorporate the use of the large or gluteus maximus muscles of the bottom. They give the leg the powerful downward and backward movement for the push ahead, at the same time the medius and minimus muscles stabilize. These same muscles stop the upper body from folding in on itself or falling forward.

Now let's talk about what can be done to change those dimensions. The side leg lift, or scissor lift as it is known in aerobic circles, will work the medius and minimus muscles. Have someone hold down your legs on your side then lift your upper torso in sort of a reverse side leg lift.

The muscle needing the most work is the maximus. You are working it when you do straight-back leg lifts either on your knees or on your side while kicking backward. You will get a better range of motion from your movement with the hip flexed, or with a bent-over-at-the-waist position. The best training movements for the large gluteus muscles are those that use the hip and the knee extensors at the same time.

Well, that's it. Now all you have to do is work on that bottom line. You have a new year ahead, time to consider what's following behind you.

n Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the Senior Center.


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