As you walk, stand, and do many other functions, certain muscles in your hips are working hard to keep your hips stable. One of the main stabilizers in your hip complex is your gluteus medius (glute med). This muscle’s jobs include abducting (bringing away from the midline) the leg, internally rotation the leg, and assists the gluteus maximus in extension. As you raise one leg to stand on the other, your glute med should hold your hips parallel to the floor instead of letting the open leg’s hip “drop.”
So what happens if one or both of your glute meds are weak? It would be similar to if your car’s tires were always low on one side. Or if your work desk was tilted and uneven? You are still able to function with a weak glute med, but because you’re working in an unbalanced state, dysfunction is unavoidable. We commonly see this in our runners which can lead to foot, ankle, knee and hip pain and other sports injuries.
Here are a few easy and practical exercises to strengthen your glute med. Try strengthening your glute med daily for a few weeks and see if you notice any difference.
1. Clams- lie on your side with your knees slightly bent and your hips stacked on top of each other. While keeping your feet together and hips stacked, slowly open and close your knees like a clam opening its shell.
2. Side-Lying Abduction- lie on your side with your hips and straight legs stacked on top of each other. Keeping your toes pointed forward, raise your top leg toward the sky as far as you can WITHOUT letting your hips shift, rotate, or hike. Bring your leg back to the starting position and repeat.
3. Standing Abduction- stand, holding onto something steady, and slowly kick out the opposite leg. Make sure to keep your toes pointed forward and remember to not hike your hips. Bring leg back to neutral and repeat.