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Modern culture and lifestyle often mean that many of us sit…sometimes almost all day. Whether in the office, in traffic, at home or just relaxing, sitting frequently can weaken an important muscle – the gluteus medius.
The gluteus medius is a highly functional muscle that helps with hip movement and should not be confused with the gluteus maximus. It sits along the outer surface of the ilium, near the pelvis, between the posterior and middle gluteal lines. In total there are three gluteal muscles that make up the buttocks and originate from the ilium and sacrum: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
Besides leveling your hips, the gluteus medius has an important job in biomechanics, stability, and balance. When you walk and run it aids in stabilizing your pelvis, in particular when you perform activities where you balance on a single leg. If the gluteus medius is weak, it can cause the hip that is not part of the standing leg to drop, and this can cause an abnormal gait and other issues. It’s important to work on exercises specifically designed to keep the gluteus medius strong and healthy.
What does the gluteus medius do?
Turns the leg in and out
Moves the leg to the side
What are a few links between Gluteus Medius weakness and pathologies?
Patellofemoral pain syndrome
Chronic low back pain
What are exercises for Gluteus Medius? (ranging from easier to more difficult)
Bilateral supine bridge
Prone hip extension with a flexed knee
Side lying hip abduction performed in a position of neutral
Side lying hip abduction with Medial Rotation
Side lying hip abduction with Lateral Rotation
Standing hip abduction
Standing hip circumduction
Single limb deadlift
Unilateral side bridge with added hip abduction
What should I think about as I’m doing these exercises?
Activating the muscle, which you are strengthening – think about contracting (squeezing) gluteus medius
To increase the benefit from the exercises, activate your core (draw your belly button to your spine and contract your abdominals, including the portion of your abdominals between your pelvic bones)
Mary Jean McKinnon, PTA, is a physical therapy assistant with OrthoCarolina’s Eastover PT office.