Many patients come into my practice with various complaints of knee, hip and sometimes ankle pain. They give me a rather strange look when I ask to test their bum muscle strength (more specifically a muscle called Gluteus Medius). Invariably, most end up shocked at how weak this muscle is when it only takes one of my fingers to push down their whole leg…
So why is the strength of this muscle SOOO important? Well, of late, researchers have found that this muscle is possibly one of the most important muscles when it comes to pelvic, hip, knee and ankle stability. It controls rotational as well as vertical movement of the pelvis and lower limbs, and as such has a massive influence on how ones leg moves and functions during activities.
For example, a common knee condition known as ITBFS (Ilio Tibial Band Friction Syndrome) was once believed to be the result of the ITB being tight and thus “rubbing” on the femoral condyle, leading to inflammation and pain. We now know that a major cause is in fact due to the femur (upper leg bone) ROTATING inwards and the ITB remaining almost STATIONARY. This means that to fix the cause of the problem, the femoral ROTATION needs to be addressed. This is where the Gluteus Medius (GM) comes in, as it controls rotational stability.
ITBFS is not the only problem that can be attributed to a weak GM. Other common injuries include:
- Trochanteric bursitis
- Medial knee ligament sprain
- ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) Sprains/tears
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Lower Back Pain and the list goes on…
Due to its influence on biomechanics, it can also have an effect higher up the Kinetic “chain”, and as such, a shoulder or elbow problem could in fact be stemming from a weak GM!
It’s worth mentioning that this muscle appears to be weaker in female athletes, and accounts for the higher incidence rates of ACL tears in this population. The USA is implementing preventative programs in order to reduce the rate of a possible career ending injury. A complete program can be downloaded from www.smsmf.org/pep-program.
A very basic exercise to start training the GM is called “the clamshell” exercise (see images below). Try to complete three sets of fifteen repetitions. When done correctly, you should feel a deep burn on the side of your bum.
If you are suffering from any of the above mentioned injuries or you would just like to prevent them, come in to your nearest PhysioPRO branch where you will be assessed for GM weakness, and then given the appropriate training program depending on your needs.
Till next time, TIGHT BUMS…quite literally
BY: Riccardo Vaccaro
Hip injuries, Knee injuries, Lower Limb injuries