by Rachel Varga
Did you know that many common lower-body injuries can occur because of hip muscle weakness? This is ultimately because our hip muscles play a significant role in how we load the joints of our lower body, including our knees and ankles, and control our movement patterns. A very important muscle that deserves special attention is the gluteus medius muscle.
The gluteus medius muscle runs from a part of the pelvis called the ilium, to a bony prominence called the greater trochanter located on our big thigh bone, otherwise known as the femur.
The primary functions of this muscle are to abduct the hip (move our leg out to the side) and stabilize the pelvis. However, if we break it down into its individual fibre groups, the anterior portion also plays a role in flexion and internal rotation of the hip, while the posterior portion is involved in extension and external rotation.
So, with all of the responsibility this muscle holds, we can see how it would be an important one, right?
Weakness in this muscle can contribute to a wide variety of injuries all the way down the lower body including, but not limited to:
- Ankle sprains
- Knee ligamentous injuries
- Hip bursitis
- Pelvic instability
- Low back pain
Three exercises that have shown to be effective in isolating the activation of this muscle, and could be used for any of the injuries listed above (depending on patient-level) are explained below.
Side-Lying Hip Abduction
Position yourself lying on your side with your hips in line with your shoulders, and your top leg straight.
Keeping the top leg in full knee extension and neutral rotation, lift it towards the ceiling into hip abduction.
Balance yourself mostly on one leg, keeping the knees and hips slightly flexed.
Then, bending through your hip, knee, and ankle joints, slowly lower yourself to the ground.
Aim to touch your opposite hand to your stabilizing foot without reaching with your shoulder.
Lateral Band Walk
Wrap a band just above the ankles. Standing with your feet slightly apart and your hips and knees in a bent position, push your knees outward into the band.
Then, while maintaining tension against the band, take a step out to the side with one leg. Bring your feet back together and repeat the process.
Physiotherapist - B.A. Hons (Kin), MSc.PT
Rachel Varga is a physiotherapist practicing at Synergy Sports Medicine, East End (2017 Danforth Avenue)
If you’re having issues with your hip, be sure to book with Rachel to get you back on track.