Now that we are in full swing with the fall season, it’s a great opportunity to tackle some strength training and improve in the stability department.
When talking about the gluteal muscles (“the glutes”), this group of muscles are comprised of 3 major ones: the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. Hip extension is primarily performed by glut max, whereas hip abduction (the focus of today’s blog post) is performed primarily by glut med and glut min. Also included on the list is the Latin-named outcast: tensor fascia lata (TFL). The TFL is primarily responsible for hip flexion and abduction, as well as internal rotation.
So who cares if you have a lazy butt?! For one, we need our gluts to do squats, deadlifts and lunges (just to name a few). Out of the gym, our gluts are needed for walking/running, cycling, skating, tennis, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, etc. The list goes on and on and on. However, it’s not a question of if and when we are going to use our glut muscles. It comes down to the ability to get stronger in the right places. It is a very common occurrence that one’s gluteus medius is not doing its job. And this can become an aggravating problem for any athlete.
Glut med weakness can mimic and be associated with various aches and pain. These include hip impingement (femoroacetabular joint), IT Band syndrome, patellofemoral (knee) pain and even chronic ankle sprains. Out of all the hip abductors, glut med has the largest volume & physiological cross-sectional area. In plain English, this muscle should be pulling the most weight out of the group. However, when glut medius decides to not do its job the following can occur:
The solution is about getting your body to work efficiently so that ALL your movements are driven by the correct muscles. The key is to choose exercises that preferentially support gluteus medius activation. With glut med weakness, it is hypothesized that the TFL takes over a being the primary hip abductor. One popular hip abductor–strengthening exercise is side stepping with an elastic resistance band secured around the lower extremities. Following an article found in Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, it is stated that during resisted side-stepping two different things occur:
How to do a Resisted Side-Step in a Mini Squat
1.) Keeping the band flat, not bunched, place it just above each ankle and wrapped around both legs.
2.) With your feet shoulder width apart, the band should be taught, but not stretched.
3.)Bend your knees slightly and move into a half-squat position in order to activate the glute medius.
4.) Keep your feet in line with your shoulders, and face forward with your body weight evenly distributed over both feet.
5.) Maintaining the half-squat position, shift your weight over one leg and take a step laterally (sideways) with the other leg. (You will be moving this leg in and out, sideways, for 8-10 reps.)
6.) Keep your hips level during the movement. Try not to bounce up and down or sway side to side.
7.) Slowly shift your weight to the moved leg and bring the other leg inward to a new ready position maintaining tension of the resistance band.
8.) Continue for 8-10 side steps and return the other direction to the start position.
This exercise addresses gluteal endurance and helps to target the appropriate muscles for hip abduction.
Lastly…. Joint movement and scar tissue formation within the soft tissue have to be considered and addressed. Working with your chiropractor will help clear this issues out and will allow you, the patient, to effectively get the most out of your workouts! Come visit us at Pro-Action Sports Injury Clinic, located at 308 Palladium Drive, Suite 108 in Kanata.
Yours in Great Health,