23 Jul 2018
Hip Stabilisers - Gluteus Medius
In order to keep our muscles strong and functioning properly, we must exercise frequently and keep ourselves physically active. With that said, many people often forget muscles that should be exercised. We usually only think about the popular muscles and exercises, such as ones that help develop our legs, arms, or abdominal muscles. I want to talk to you about our glutes - everybody knows what the gluteus maximus is – essentially, the main muscle of the butt, but what about the other gluteus muscles? The gluteus medius, one of the other two gluteus muscles, is one muscle that often gets undeservedly ignored. When this muscle is ignored in exercise, the pelvis is no longer fully stabilised while walking or running. A weak glute muscles can lead to many serious injuries. By strengthening these muscles, you could avoid these issues completely.
I often see with my clients that the muscle that is particularly weak is the glute medius muscles. As the name suggests, the gluteus medius muscle is located in the middle of the other two gluteus muscles: the gluteus maximus and the gluteus minimus. A strong and fully functioning gluteus medius muscle will allow the hips and butt to stay level when one leg is raised while the other stays planted on the ground. When the muscle is weak, the pelvis may drop on one side when a leg is raised; this is due to the pelvis not having enough lower support, which is where the gluteus medius muscle comes in. weak gluteus medius muscles can result in many issues and injuries. Most of these issues involve severe pain in various parts of the body affected by the hips. Although weak gluteus medius muscles can cause severe back pain and other back issues, the primary symptoms can normally be found lower in the kinetic chain of the body, namely in the knees.
Single leg exercises such as single leg squats and lunges work because they force you to use the muscles to stabilise your pelvis when you are trying to balance on one leg. When both legs are planted on the floor, the glute medius muscles does not need to work. The pelvic drop exercise—also known as hip hikes—is a great exercise to improve the strength of the hips. This exercise strengthens the gluteus medius muscle.
Start the pelvic drop exercise by standing on a step stool or on the bottom step of your stairs. If balance is a problem, be sure to hold onto something stable, like a stair rail. Stand sideways on the step and hang one leg off the step. Be sure to keep your abdominals tight and keep your pelvis level. Use a mirror to ensure you are in the proper position if necessary.
Position 2 of the Pelvic Drop Exercise
While standing on the step with one leg, keep your support leg straight and your abdominals engaged. Then allow your leg that is hanging off the step to slowly fall towards the ground. Do this by allowing your pelvis to slowly drop down.
It is essential to keep your support leg on the step as straight as possible. Many people want to bend the knee to lower down, but lower down by letting the pelvis drop slowly. Your foot should not lower enough to touch the ground—be sure to control the movement with a slow, steady drop.
When your pelvis drops down as far as possible, hold this position for a second or two, and be sure to keep your abdominals tight. Then proceed to the final step of the exercise.
Finishing the Exercise
After you have lowered the pelvis, simply use your hip muscles in your support leg on the step to raise your pelvis up. Your support leg should remain straight and your stomach should be tight.
When your pelvis is level again, you have completed one repetition of the pelvic drop exercise. Repeat the pelvic drop 10 to 15 times. When it becomes easy to perform, you can challenge yourself further by performing 2 to 3 sets of the exercise, or you can hold a small dumbbell in your hand to add resistance to the exercise.
Remember that this exercise is not for everyone, and a visit your doctor is essential before starting any exercise program.
The pelvic drop exercise is a simple way to help improve the strength of the gluteal muscles in the hips. By keeping the hips strong, you may be able to prevent hip, back or knee problems and you can maintain appropriate functional mobility.
Full length hip and glute strengthening exercise can be found in my lower body zone.