On Wednesday, I told you the story of growing up with “turned in legs”. I discovered many years later that the pain and weakness in my hips and knees I’d experienced as a child was mostly due to a very weak, very sleepy gluteus medius. It wasn’t until I found Yoga Tune Up®, that I began to find relief and fully understand the important role this muscle plays is in all aspects of running, walking, sitting, standing and my beloved yoga.
To begin to awaken my very droopy glute med, I started with Prasarita Lunges, emphasizing “pushing” from side to side, using abductors to initiate the movement and warming up the outer and inner hips. Check out the video here:
For targeted gluteus medius strengthening I practiced Abductor Lifts Dynamic. Beginning in Ardha Uttanasa, (putting hands on blocks to keep my spine straight) feet together, slowly lift one leg to the side, paying close attention not to lean into the standing leg, maintaining neutral pelvis, and exploring your end range of motion in abduction of the lifted leg
One of my favorite Yoga Tune Up® exercises is Moon Rises Minivini, which helps to build stability and flexibility throughout the entire hip girdle. See the video below for the how-to. Don’t get confused by the fancy leg! Only the standing leg and hip are actually working. Be acutely aware of each leg, maintaining Tadasana in the extended leg and acutely focusing and feeling internal and external rotation of the femur bone in the socket.
These YTU® exercises have created better balance in my body, less pain and much more mobility. Combined with Yoga Tune Up® Therapy balls, I have discovered a way to reduce and nearly abolish the day-to-day hip and knee pain I lived with for years. Yoga Tune Up is about learning to better propriocept and appreciate the body you have instead of trying to fit into someone else’s idea of what you should be. I am proud to report that I am back to jogging up to 12 miles a week, with minimal discomfort and I have a new relationship to standing poses and my “turned in legs”.
Enjoyed this article? Read Hip Space Available Immediately: A Step on the Path to a Balanced Pelvis.
Amazing news that you are able to jog again!!! Dedication to hitting the mat and doing the exercises to re-awaken the sleepy areas. Very inspiring. And the reminder to focus acutely on standing leg and hip to create the illusion that the extended leg is “doing all the work”. Hello, Gluteus Medius.
I really love how the Moon Rises Minivini is Dynamic and the focus is on the standing leg initiating the rotation. Often I am so focused on using more of the leg that is extended and this has changed my perspective completely. I feel this will be useful with my dance students as well.
The “Moon Rises” exercises were a game changer and one of my favorites from the YTU Teacher Training course. It was so eye opening to some blind spots I personally have. I could feel my adductors and glutes really light up and activate more than I imagined I would have.
The prasarita lunges are also a great way to wake up and activate the whole hip girdle. Definitely will be using these not only in my own practice but with my fighters and hockey players especially.
Thanks for sharing Erin.
This goes along with a discussion we were just having in out YTU training. I realized I don’t (and many people don’t) use the full end range of the internal rotation and how vital it is to address both ends of the rotation on the hip. Those moon poses are so hard, but so good! Thank you.
I found these to be very challenging for me at the beginning of teacher training, but as I’ve practiced them more and more I love what they do to decrease the pain in my hips by awakening that sleepy glute medius!
I learned these movements in the training and I absolutely love how they feel and what they do for my hips and my sleepy glute med! I have incorporated many of these movements into my classes and my own practice.
I love the Moonrise Vini’s. The first time I did it, I thought it was so easy, but then I realized I was relying on the strength of my arms to assist the alternating abduction and adduction of the standing leg. When I tried to isolate the effort in my standing leg, which also added load to the work, it felt like I could finally differentiate the various muscles in the hips and their function. I feel like this is such an amazing embodied anatomy exercise to learn about muscles of the hips. Thank you Jill! This one is a keeper!
I just learned this exercise in class yesterday. Seems each day at least one pose will be completely beyond my grasp. Perhaps it was the noise in the room, or the extra 20 lbs I have been carrying since the fall, or my general exhaustion. I look forward to trying again today.
This is one of my favorite warms ups!
Love these 3 exercises you chose for targeting the gluteus medius! They’re great and my 3 go to ones. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing these great exercises, looking forward to trying and putting them in my tool bag.
I noticed when I bring the attention to the action of the flexed or standing leg I can really feel the glutes engage and relax as I move through the moon rise minivini. Just trying to forget about that fancy leg!
After trying the dynamic abductor lifts I was very aware of how stiff and weak my outer hips (or abductors) really are. I noticed how much easier this pose seemed after practicing the prasarita lunges.
Thanks for the article. I am adding all of these to my practice. The Abductor Leg lifts are really hard for me and I think they are exactly what I need.
I just learned these exercises yesterday in class! Absolutely love them and can definitely feel the muscles working!
Very helpful! Having this issue!
I am now adding these 2 poses into my morning routine to awaken my gluteus medius – and help my hip stability. Thank you for sharing!
These are all great exercises to target and strengthen adducters and abducters.
Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for this blog. I look forward to using this for myself and my clients.
So often we first think of stretching (or, now, rolling) to alleviate pain. But as you note, it’s not always due to tightness in a muscle. Sometimes it’s due to weakness. This is especially confusing in our hip/thigh region, where stretching and rolling feels sooooo good that we just want to keep doing it. Thanks for this sequence of poses that address pain by strengthening the muscles we use so often, in yoga and in life.
Working on my gluteus medius have made a huge impact on my pelvic stability. My SI-joint issue has also cleared with that type of work. Maybe my pelvis is ready for the moon rises minivin now.
Thank you Erin, I will start doing the abductor lifts to wake up my gluteus medium. One on them is definitely asleep.
These are some of my faves and really important movements for hip stability.
You nailed to of my favourite minivini’s! 🙂 Prasarita lunges and moon rises!
Thank you for this informative blog. I am always looking for ways to activate a sleepy” glute medius ” for my private clients.
Wow! A few months ago, I also realize that my leak glutes was a part of my back pain. I already did some strenght work that help a lot, but I will surly try those ones that I didn’t know. Thanks!
I discovered during a private session that my right glut was very week. Moon rise and prasarita lunges definitely made my hips burn during my level one certification. These I loved these two poses and will make them part of my weekly routine.
I love the warm up and strengthening exercises. I really need this for my hips. Taking the 7 days, level 1 training with Jill this week in Tarzana CA. Learning so much valuable information.
Thank you for the post. I have had problems with my TI, Psoas and gluteus medius due to some old knee injuries. But today I took a YTU class that had the Prasarita Lunges and my world suddenly looks brighter. After class my mobility was free of most of the pain and didn’t come back right away. I plan on adding this as a warm-up for the Moon Rises Minivini as a part of my weekly practice to add strength to my legs and gluteus.
Love this activation drill for that lazy glute med! It really brings awareness to this muscle. Good to hear how effective it’s been for addressing chronic pain.
I discovered today, when doing Abductor Lifts Dynamic, that I definitely need to focus on strengthening my gluteus medius. When I read in another blog that a weak gluteus medius can also result in lower back pain and knee issues, I now know I really need to do some focused work on myself! This is a really helpful blog, and I’ll start the sequence suggested above and build some strength (and mobility). Other ways that might help include doing an Abductor Lift Dynamic with the foot of the abducted leg pressing against a wall. Also adding in fire hydrant whenever I happen to be doing cat/cow.
As anyone in my YTU Level 1 class knows, I have a mild obsession with Moon Rises Minivini. Anything that dynamically strengthens gluteus medius is a positive in my book. The progression of exercises here makes sense in terms of difficulty, and allows individuals with differing gluteus medius weakness/sleepiness to choose which one(s) work best for them!
I thought I was strong until I tried these 2 exercises. the moon rises are a great way to truly discover internal and external rotation of the hip.
I liked how you used the three Yoga Tune Up poses to improve hip strength and flexibility. Hearing first hand how these helped you become pain free, and increased your mobility is wonderful feedback. This is something I will definitely begin to start practicing for my own “sleepy gluteus medius” . Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for telling us your story. I imagine almost all of us can relate to this as we have experienced ways in which our own bodies don’t function the way they optimally should. I am continually noticing things about myself that I can work on as the knowledge with in me has grown enough to understand it. As I am exposed to more and more tools in YTU, and through the other great trainings I take, it all raises our awareness to how we can help both ourselves and others!
Interesting videos! They helped understand the area. I was unaware of this muscle prior to this weekend and am curious to explore these moves and see how it feels.
Thanks for sharing your story. I too have weak gluteus medius and Will try your recommendations. They look like two great posses for strengthening weak gluteus medius. Thanks for including the videos , they’re very helpful.
Super pour retrouver de la mobilité dans nos hanches et ainsi
contrer la position assise : )
These are so great to increase hip mobility, thank you!
I read your prior article and was interested to see what poses you are using. I love how you have incorporated the videos as I am so visual. It is great to have a suggested warm up prior to the strengthening pose. I do love the Moon Rises Minivini so I’m going to keep them up. Thanks
Thanks, Erin. I just learned the Moon rises minivinis and this may be one technique I incorporate into a regular practice. I can see how it would stabilize the pelvis and work the standing leg.
Anything to make the glute med stronger is a winner in my playbook. I seem to walk better, stay in poses longer, generally feel looser because there seems to be more length in the side body when those glutes fire.
I tried the Abductor Lifts Dynamic today in class and it’s impressive how such a simple exercise can be so useful to straighten the abductors! I will start adding it to my home practice.
I deal with many people who have “bad knees”. I love the idea that the glut med could be a contributing factor and that you provided 3 poses to help build back that strength (Prasarita Lunges, abductor lifts, and moon rises minivini).
I’ve had recurring knee issues for years. I should be making the time to do the right exercises to awaken my glut med everyday – but I am SO bored of clam shells. I love the prasarita lunges b/c I can do them quickly on my mat before I start teaching any yoga class.
What a great pairing to warm up hips for dancers.
Thanks for this blog because most people have sleepy gluets. These poses are challenging to do but doable for any. I need to get my students to wake up their sleepy gluets from sitting too much!
I’ve been told that I have a weak gluteus medius on the left side and this progressive sequence is great for working to both create better proprioception of this part of the body and also creating more balance between the right and left side to smooth out my walking and running gate. The abductor lifts really gave me immediate feedback about the big difference between right and left in my body.
Great article about the Gluteus medius . I have also noticed when I sit crossed legged on the floor for some period of time my Glutus medius becomes numb and tingly. I’ll have to start doing prasaritta lunges to strengthen that area.
I love pasarita lunges, one of my favorite exercises for hip warm-up! Today I tried the abductor lift dynamic for the first time, and thought it was an interesting, challenging move. Will definitely add this to my list to warm-up and awaken hip muscles!
These are great moves for dynamically stretching and strengthening the glute medius. Having just finished my level 1 training, I am just starting to incorporate YTU poses in my classes. I think that I will include these with a peak balance pose. Thanks.
I have chronic shin splints and when I went to see physiotherapy, we discovered that my left glute minimus and medius don’t fire. These are great exercise to isolate and concentrate on my small glute muscles and I can work my left glute especially with moonrisers. Thanks for the article
Thank you Erin! I have had several hip surgeries including joint replacements, and my glut med on both sides are very weak from being asleep so long. I can’t wait to do the moon rises, and deconstructing the movements to highlight the stabilizing hip. Also really enjoyed the warm up and prasarita lunges traveling more quickly than I’ve done in the past/
Sounds like some regular application of these exercises are in order for me! My glute med seems to be asleep until its “head nods” and suddenly its all “I”m awake, I’m awake!” Not enough engagement, and then way too much engagement. This sounds like a great way to get mine back under control. Therapy balls have helped, but adding some active movement will hopefully seal the deal!
I absolutely love half moon minivinis and have become one of my favorite exercises to do to keep my hip happy. Thank you for a great post
Effectivement! Cet exercice apporte des bienfaits incroyables! Les sensations sont immédiates. Je l’adore!
Great! A little inversion of yoga poses, sleep and unconsidered muscle are awakened! Now I know that Gluteus medius changes your walk. Does the back pain relief a little bit by awaking Gluteus medius? I feel like the muscle supports waist more.
I just recently learned the 3 exercises you mention in your article, and I cannot wait to share these with my yoga students! One of the most noticeable trends that I see in my students during single-leg standing balancing postures is the leg falling to the medial side of the knee/ankle or inward-pulling. I would add to this list good old-fashioned squats! Done correctly and with the emphasis on abduction, I have seen major improvement in strength and stability not only in my students, but in myself!
Thanks Erin for sharing, I too have noted how weak my gluteus medium is and was thrilled to learn half moon minivinis yesterday. It’s interesting how much more flexibility I naturally have with external rotation given years of yoga, but less strengthen in doing the internal rotation. I’m also quite tall and have long arms so having my hands on two sets of blocks (one laying flat and another standing up tall on top) really helped to get the right alignment.
I also have a weak gluteus medius. This is helpful advice on how to awaken the gluteus and strengthen them in my journey towards pain free jogging.
I read this article as well as your article titled Getting to Know Your Gluteus Medius, where you shared your story of your internally rotated hips and your realization that your gluteus medius had been sleeping on you! I too have more internally rotated hips, but from the sounds of it, not quite as severe of a situation. I have struggled in yoga classes over the years as the teachers would constantly repeat “straighten your legs” to the whole class while clearly intending for me to pick up on this cue they assumed I was missing. This would leave me frustrated in classes because I was trying as hard as I could to straighten my legs, to no avail. I have recently been focusing on strengthening my gluteus as well as releasing my adductors and just began my YTU level 1 certification course. I will definitely incorporate the poses you selected to share and I am exited to see how the increase in knowledge and work affects my body. Thank you.
This was a very helpful read! I’ve had a very weak gluteus medius on my right side for a very long time. I’ve had some PT suggestions in terms of how to strengthen it, but it was static and I couldn’t quite make the mental connection to the actual muscle. The Moon Rises minivini is so much more dynamic and really targets the area in a way that my mind can really access. Finding that connection so I truly understand how I am to engage the muscle is so important. Thank you so much!
I tried both of these exercises right after reading this blog post and I can already feel more space in my hips. My only concern is that I tend to feel pain in the fronts of both my hips, usually right in the hip creases. Is this unusual? Is there any way I can fix it? Thank you so much for these videos!
These exercises, for me, actually relieved some tension in my glute med’s. My gait has improved. I can feel a more balanced tension spread more evenly across the foot. And my shoes don’t hurt me anymore. Now that my glute meds are longer they’re also stronger. I find that I can hold wide stance squats with a lot less effort while feeling the toning and strength at the same time.
Today is a 1st day that I experienced my Gltues Medius with YTU ball. It was amazing and surprising!! I always wonder how could I “turn in” more and not walking with one foot slightly turned out. Taking care of the Gluteus Medius is an answer of heathy hips and healthy posture.
Thanks for writing this article and sharing the exercises/videos to help strengthen the gluteus medius. I have hip pain and like you I walked (and ran, played sports, etc) with my feet pointing inward as the child.
Prasarita Lunges and Moon Rises are two of my favorite YTU exercises right now and my hips and glute med have never been happier. The first time I did them it completely exposed blind spots and weaknesses I never knew existed – but in an amazing way! I highly highly recommend these exercises for anyone and everyone looking to strengthen and improve range of motion in the hip region
This hip work does wonders virtually all weightlifting maneuvers, from front squatting to jerking. Waking up the glute medius is so important for generating external rotation in your hips and getting a stable and strong pelvis, and this translates to so many movements in daily life.
I had double hip surgery (FAI)- my hips naturally internally rotate so my feet actually turn in as well. I find the moon rises are quite tough for me but after doing them, I feel a great increase of range. My squat is deeper after practicing these Yoga tune up movements and although the parsarita lunges don’t feel great in my body while doing them, I feel my abductors getting worked which is a good feeling if you don’t often use them, in my case because I’m super quad dominant.
Thanks Erin for including the links to Prasarita Lunges and Moon Rises. I was diagnosed with weak glutes on my right side when I saw a physio for some right knee pain. I did the Moon Rises exercise in a YTU class and was amazed at how challenging but also how fantastic the exercise felt. I could really feel the hip joint moving. The exercise also highlighted that indeed my right glutes are weaker than my left. I haven’t tried Prasarita Lunges yet but will sure to give it a go
Thank you for posting these enlightening stretches. I too have slightly turned in legs and occasion sly have pains in my hips as a result of this. Going to start adding these to my routine.
My out-turned feet probably some from early childhood ballet training topped off by even more years of being unaware of my bad habit of standing, walking, etc. with them. I’m also keenly aware that my habit of standing on a hiked hip, with the other foot turned out contributed. When I first tried the Moon Rises MV, I found it to be rather easy…until I realized that it was the grounded hip that I was to focus on. That changed everything. The cold sweats that broke out from how much my brain had to work trying to find the connection to these two movement patterns was a revelation…I could move sure, but I was recruiting the wrong muscles.
I love how by doing a varied Yoga practice we end up flowing through so much of what we need in all major areas of the body – and that we can zoom in too, like these videos do, especially fun to locate some hidden treasure we’ve overlooked & needed! Next scroll – to the ball rolling pieces that release these muscles after working them! Yay!
This is awesome…thank you! I similarly had some chronic knee pain a while back that was largely due to a vacationing glute med.
Really appreciate your including the videos along with your post! Will have some new tools to offer my clients!
I seem to have the opposite problem going on, too. I’ve been complaining about (admittedly vague, but persistent) symptoms of SI joint instability and pain on my left side, for about the past six months. It was only this week that I had some deep-tissue work done in my Glute Max and Glute Medius and Piriformis on the left side, and I felt a tremendous and immediate sense of relief in the sacrum and lower back. It felt like both sides of my lower back and both hips were in better alignment after releasing some of the chronic constriction in my glutes. This is something I’m going to continue working with and see how much more opening and release I can find. Any tips from others on exploring this process? – Dennis
Great article! I have just the opposite going on. Tight glute med/piriformis. Working on strengthening the ADductors. I do love the prasaritta lunges.