Did you know that the gluteus medius is one of the most important muscles in the body? It plays a key role in prevention of low back, hip, knee and ankle injuries. The gluteus medius muscle is also key in helping one return from such injuries.
What is the gluteus medius?
The gluteus medius is one of three gluteal muscles that make up your buttocks and is located on the outside of your hip and pelvis. To find it, feel for your greater trochanter. The trochanter is the bony protuberance on the outside of you hip. Run your finger straight up towards your pelvis about an inch or two. To confirm that you found it, start walking. When you are standing on one leg, you should really feel that muscle tighten up. When you step off that leg, it turns off. Did you find it?
How does it function?
Functionally, the gluteus medius stabilizes your pelvis and hip as you walk and run. It helps reduce the likelihood of ACL tears by preventing the knee from buckling inward. Additionally, it controls your foot and ankle by rotating your entire lower extremity to allow for supination and pronation. To see that in action, stand in your bare feet with your feet flat and hip width apart. Then rotate your body to the right and to the left. Watch the arches in your feet. You should see your arches alternately flatten and rise up.
Because the average person takes between 5,000 and 10,000 steps a day, the gluteus medius MUST be able to handle the work load. Below are two exercises to focus on to strengthening the gluteus medius.
1. Side-lying hip abduction-Lying on your side with head resting on bottom arm, legs straight, and the top leg slightly behind the bottom one. Slowly lift your top leg skyward, keeping your toes pointed straight ahead. Slowly return to start position. Start with 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Progress as you can to 3 sets of 15-25 repetitions. Add some ankle weights if it gets too easy.
1. Single limb balance-with or without shoes try to balance on one foot for as long as you can. Experts can last up to 2 minutes without losing their balance. When that gets easy, try turning your head slowly from right to left. Or play catch with a buddy as you balance. First on to lose their balance…loses!