The gluteus medius is normally associated with movement. Weak glut medius muscles have ‘ruined’ more running seasons than perhaps any other single cause of running-related injury.
Appropriate assessments, exercise and rehabilitation can restore proper glut medius function.
The gluteus medius muscle originates at the top of the ilium (hip bone of the pelvis) below the iliac crest, and runs to the top outside surface of the greater trochanter (outer side of the thigh bone). It is the major abductor of the thigh (lifts it away from the body to the side). The fibres at the front rotate the hip internally and the rear fibres rotate it externally.
During walking or running when the foot is on the ground the gluteus medius is a pelvic stabiliser. It helps to keep the hips parallel to the ground. If the gluteus medius is not functioning well enough to achieve this control, compensation will occur.
Weakness in gluteus medius will have implications all the way down the kinetic chain. For example:
- the femur (thigh bone) to shift inwards and internally rotate excessively
- the knee to fall into a knock-kneed position
- the lower leg to rotate internally relative to the foot
- weight to be excessively transferred to inner side of the foot.
As a result you are at increased risk of any condition relating to excessive and/or prolonged pronation of the foot, such as medial tibial stress syndrome or Achilles tendinitis.
What contributes to gluteus medius weakness:
- Medical – hip rotator tears and congenital dislocation of the hip
- Lifestyle – standing predominantly on one leg with the pelvis swayed sideways and hip joint adducted (the classic hip-hitch slouch, often used by mothers when they stand with a child in their arms)
- Simply sleeping on your side with the top leg flexed and adducted over the other leg: maintaining an elongated position for sustained periods can weaken the glute med.
My favorite exercises for the gluteus medius are side lying hip abduction, single leg squats, and lateral band walks.
Come in and I’ll teach you how to perform these maneuvers with perfection.