Gluteus Medius – the key to the lower body

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The gluteus medius (or glute med) sits laterally on the hip.

The MUSCLE ACTION of the glute med is abduction, or moving the leg outwards from the body. The glute med can also help with some rotation and flexion/extension of the hip.

The MUSCLE FUNCTION is stabilisation of the hip. The glute med is what enables you to stand on one leg and have the strength to do single legged movements.

This is IMPORTANT! It is important because you need strength of the glute med to be able to walk, balance on one leg, run, jump, hop etc.

The glute med stops you from dropping your hip mid stride, enabling you to maintain both hips at the same height when you stand on one leg.

When we are not able to maintain the same height of the hips, we refer to this as the TRENDELENBURG SIGN.

When someone tests positive for a Trendelenburg sign, they might notice they drop their hip when they walk, and there might be a click, pop or catch at the same time.

Strength and control of the glute med not only helps you control your pelvis in a single leg stance, it also helps you avoid:

  • Gluteal tendinopathies
  • Labral tears
  • Hip bursitis
  • Overloading the knees and ultimately knee pain
  • Foot and ankle pain

And the list could go on!

In order to gain strength and control of the glute med, we first need to isolate the muscle. One of the best exercises for this is a banded clamshell;

clam exercise demonstration

The clamshell is perfect for feeling that specific glute med burn, and taking out any aspects of a complicated movement, making it very glute med specific.

Once we have isolated the muscle, we then need to integrate it into more complex movements. A good place to start is an isolated hip dip/hitch. This plays back into controlling that hip height as mentioned above in a Trendelenburg gait. It’s harder than it looks! Think about pulling your hip joint apart as you lift up.

hip ditch demonstration

Our physiotherapists are well versed in the function of the glute med, and can guide you as to the best glute med integrative exercises for you!

Lauren Osborne

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