Gluteus Medius Weakness
The Gluteus Medius
The gluteus medius is one of three gluteus muscles that originates on the posterior aspect of the pelvis and inserts into the lateral femur. It is know to abduct the hip and internally or externally rotate the femur depending on the position of the leg (1). More recently it has been shown to be an important muscle for stabilization, keeping the pelvis level and preventing internal rotation of the hip and the knee from buckling inward during weight-bearing.
This role as a muscle of stabilization has some important implications for injury prevention. Gluteus medius weakness has been linked to low back pain, patellofemoral pain syndrome, achilles tendonopathy and IT band syndrome(2,3). If a muscle of stabilization is weak or dysfunctional, it can lead to compensation from other muscles in the chain, leading to overuse injuries such as tendonitis.
A physical therapist can assess for gluteus medius weakness a number of ways, including testing the strength of abduction in side lying, testing internal rotation in sitting, or looking for a drop of the pelvis or Trandelenburg sign when an individual is standing on one leg. Once weakness in the muscle has been identified, the physical therapist can develop a specific exercise program to address the problem and prevent or rehabilitate an injury. Exercises may start with abduction or internal rotation in sitting or lying and progress to more functional activities in weight-bearing, including the activation of gluteus medius in combination with other muscles of the lower extremity as is typical of higher level activity such as sports.
For more information, please contact the clinic to speak with one of our experienced physical therapists.
2) Cooper NA1, Scavo KM, Strickland KJ, Tipayamongkol N, Nicholson JD, Bewyer DC, Sluka KA. Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls. Eur Spine J 2015 May 26
3) Fredericson, M, Cookingham CL, Chaudhari AM, Dowdell BC, Oestreicher N, Sahrmann SA. Hip abductor weakness in distance runners with iliotibial band syndrome. Clinical Journal Sport Med. 2000 Jul;10(3):169-75