Are you suffering from Gluteus Medius Pain?

A weakened or tight gluteus medius can lead to back pain, knee pain, or even uneven legs. In fact, a 2019 scientific review of 24 articles [1] showed that participants with lower back pain tended to have weakened gluteus medius muscles and more trigger points compared to participants without low back pain.

This article will describe the gluteus medius, provide some possible causes for gluteus medius pain, and provide instructions 12 exercises that can help strengthen these muscles and alleviate your pain.

Keep reading to below.

What is the Gluteus Medius?

There are three major gluteal muscles:

The gluteus medius muscle is large and fan-shaped and runs along and beneath the more known gluteus maximus. It connects from the ilium (hip bone) down to the greater trochanter (or thigh bone).

Gluteus Medius Anatomy

What does the Gluteus Medius do?

The primary function of the gluteus medius is to work with your other gluteal muscles of your hip to move your hip to the side, technically called hip abduction. The gluteus medius also plays a function in thigh rotation.

Gluteus Medius Supports Walking

 

While all of the gluteal muscles are important in human movement (walking), the gluteus medius action has a major role in providing balance and stability when walking. It also levels the hips. It plays a part in walking by activating to keep your pelvis level when taking a step, activating on the leg on the ground while the other is in the air.

Why Might you get Gluteus Medius pain?

While our ancestors spent most of their days walking around foraging for food, our modern culture promotes a more sedentary lifestyle. We often sit all day in front of a computer, in traffic on our commute, at home while watching television or just relaxing. This frequent sitting has a tendency to weaken muscles and make them tighter.

This weakening and tightening of your muscles can lead to pain in the gluteus medius or nearby muscles that may overcompensate for the muscle’s weakness, including:

Another habit that often leads to a tight gluteus medius (on one side only) is standing on one leg.

This tightening of the gluteus medius muscle can pull on the pelvis and create postural issues such as short leg syndrome.

What Are the Best Gluteus Medius Exercises?

Below, you will find 12 great exercises to help with your gluteus medius pain and sample videos to help you perform the exercises.

These exercises can be done anywhere, without the use of equipment and no need for a gym.

Disclaimer – Please Consult Your Physician

Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to ensure any exercise or treatment you do if safe for your particular condition. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.

The Clam Exercise

Popularized in Pilates and fitness classes everywhere, the clam exercise directly targets the hip flexors and gluteal muscles.

While one of the easiest exercises to do on the list, a 2012 study [2] showed the clam exercise resulted in the greatest activation of the anterior hip flexors with little activation of the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus.

Bilateral Supine Bridge

The bilateral supine bridge, or glute bridge targets all three gluteal muscles. This exercise is also known as the butt builder, one of the key exercises to a great looking butt!

Prone Hip Extension with Knee Flexion

The prone hip extensions with a bended knee exercise activates both the hamstrings and gluteal muscles. It is often recommended after ACL reconstruction, but can be a great gluteus medius builder as well.

Side Lying Hip Abductions from Neutral Position

A great glute and core builder, the side lying hip abduction exercise has several variations. We’ll go over each one, starting from neutral position.

A 2012 study [2] concluded that the side-lying hip-abduction exercise was the best exercise for activating the gluteus medius with little activation of the tensor fascia latae and anterior hip flexors.

Side Lying Hip Abduction with Medial Rotation

Similar to side lying hip abductions in neutral position, the medial rotation variation will bring your toe in towards the floor. This is a great exercise to activate the gluteus medius and also to open up the lateral compartment of the trunk.

Side Lying Hip Abduction with External Rotation

Often used to promote mobility, our last side lying hip abduction variation, is the external rotation variation

Standing Hip Abduction

We’re simply increasing the difficulty by introducing this standing variation of the hip abduction. See the video below on how to perform the exercise.

Transverse Lunge

The transverse lunge is a great combination exercise – a great gluteal muscle builder which also promotes hip mobility. This one can take a little getting used to, so watch the video to get the details!

Standing Hip Circumduction (Passive)

The Standing Hip Circumduction exercise is a passivize exercise that involves the rotation of the hip in a circular movement.

It is a low impact exercise that can mobilize a stiff hip. See the video below for how to perform the exercise.

Single Leg Deadlift

The single leg deadlift is one my personal favorites. It is a hip hinge movement that can be done with or without weights. It is a variation of a traditional deadlift that can help strengthen the back, legs, and core.

The single leg version also involves balance so it recruits even more muscles during the movement!

Side Bridge

The side bridge is often thought of as a core exercise – which it is! But like a late-night infomercial, “Wait! There’s more!”

The side bridge also works all of the following:

  • The obliques
  • Hip Abductor Muscles
  • The Quadratus Lumborum (a deep back muscle)
  • The rectus abdominis (or the 6-pack area)
  • And both the upper and lower back muscles

Side Bridge with Hip Abduction

This is the same great exercise as above, but with an added leg lift.

What are the Best Massage Products for Gluteus Medius Pain?

Besides just exercise, perhaps you are looking at other ways to massage the gluteal area. There are a few tools of the trade that will work wonders.

Foam Roller for the Glutes

Foam rolling is a great way to target the gluteal muscles. It is quite a simple movement.

  1. Sit on the foam roller.
  2. Roll back and forth to target the glute muscles.

Ok, it might be a little more complicated than that to hit the three major gluteal muscles individually, but we’re including this handy video to help you out.

Tennis Ball or Trigger Point Ball Gluteal Massage

Another inexpensive but very effective option is to utilize a tennis ball or a trigger point ball.

Conclusion

That’s it! We hope this was helpful and can alleviate your gluteal pain, strengthen your muscles, and increase your flexibility and mobility.

Let us know if this is helpful in the comments.

References:

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