Got pain? If yes, you may have weak glute medius.
What is the gluteus medius?
The gluteus medius is one of three gluteal muscles. It is located on the outside, back hip (lateral, posterior) with a function of moving your leg away from the midline (abduction) as well as both internal and external rotation of the hip. It is a tricky muscle to turn on, yet super important for daily activities and functional mobility.
Why is the gluteus medius important?
The gluteus medius stabilizes your pelvis and hip joint during weight baring activities such as walking and running. It is also important for stair ascent and decent. Because this muscle is difficult to activate, it is often weak, which can alter hip and knee function. In fact, individuals with underutilized gluteus medius experience front knee and lower back pain.
How do you initiate gluteus medius activity?
Both a lunge and a hip bridge activate the gluteus medius. Score!
LUNGE: The position setup for a lunge is critical for safe technique and ultimate recruitment. Start in a 90-90 kneeling lunge to confirm the optimal distance between the legs. Ensure that the front knee is stacked over the front ankle and that the knees are hip distance apart. Tuck the back toe under and lift up. As you perform a dynamic lunge with an up and down movement, square both shoulders and hips, raise chest, and brace core (especially as you lift).
You can fire up the gluteus medius even more by holding a single dumbbell in the hand of the back leg. Lead the dynamic lunge with the back knee by lowering it to the floor until the front thigh is parallel to the ground. After reaching the optimal range, push through the front heel while you press the front knee slightly away from the midline to return to the start position.
HIP BRIDGE: The position setup for a bridge is lying on the ground (supine) with knees bent (flexed) and feet hip distance apart. Lift and lower body without twisting to perform a dynamic bridge while keeping both shoulders and hips square to the floor.
You can energize the gluteus medius even more by resting a plate on your upper thighs, placing a resistance band around your lower thighs or moving your heels closer to your hips. Consciously contract your glutes as you lift hips by pushing through heels. As you perform multiple repetitions, maintain continual activity of the glutes by keeping hips off the floor.
Boudreau SN, et al. (2009). Hip-muscle activation during the lunge, single-leg squat, and step-up-and-over exercises. J Sport Rehabil. 18(1):91-103.
Cooper, NA, et al. (2016). Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls. Euro Spine J. 25(4): 1258–1265.
Lehecka, BJ, et al. (2017). Building A Better Gluteal Bridge: Electromyographic analysis of hip muscle activity during modified single-leg bridges. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 12(4): 543–549.
Stastny P, at al. (2015). Does the dumbbell-carrying position change the muscle activity in split squats and walking lunges? J Strength Cond Res. 29(11):3177-87.