There is one muscle in the hip that does the lion's share of providing stability. Do you know which one?
Gluteus medius, the middle gluteal/buttock muscle is massively important in stabilising the pelvis, especially when loading on a single leg. If it isn't working properly then the body cannot keep the pelvis aligned when walking or running, and that can lead to big problems.
Poor pelvic control in gait is linked to Low Back Pain, Tibial and Foot Stress Fractures, Anterior Knee Pain, Cruciate Ligament Injuries and ITB Friction Syndrome. How can a single muscle do so much? Let's have a look at it's anatomy.
Gluteus Medius is a hip abductor. It starts on the crest of the pelvis, the bony ridge at the top of your hips. It has three distinct heads that all run to the greater trochanter of the femur (the bony knob on the outside of your hip). It is ideally positioned to keep the pelvis level no matter how flexed or extended the hip joint is. If it works well when you stand on one leg your pelvis will stay level and steady. If it is weak or injured then your pelvis tends to drop to one side. This is known as Trendelenberg's Sign. When it happens in walking it is sometimes known as Trendelenberg's Gait. If your Physio has ever watched you walk up and down the corridor, chances are this is one of the things they are looking for.
You can check yourself in the mirror at home. Sometimes the pelvis will appear to stay level even when the muscles are weak by the hip dropping to the side. Try standing on one leg. If one side of your pelvis drops or your hip drifts out to the side then you likely have a weak Gluteus Medius.
Rehabilitating Gluteus Medius is actually pretty straight forward once you know you have a problem. Management usually starts with awareness exercise in side-lying to identify what the muscle feels like when it fires. Specific exercises may be given for some or all the heads. Load is gradually increased until more functional exercises can be included to strengthen the muscle. This often also involved correction of poor technique and habits that have developed with the weakness.
So if you have a niggle in your knee that won't go away or a feeling in your foot that is ruining your day, maybe, just maybe your hip is the culprit.
For more information or to see if you could benefit from a hip tune up, why not contact our team or book an appointment online.