We are living during an era where the speed at which technology is evolving and the time required at a computer is at an all time high. With that stated, the long periods of sitting that many careers demand, along with the amount of drive thru services that exist is taking its toll on the general public with poor postural habits, including forward head posture, increased kyphotic spinal curves, weakened core muscles and underactive gluteus muscles. One muscle that suffers chronically from the above mentioned scenarios, is the gluteus medius. Sore hips, low back pain and uneven pelvis all may have a connection to this weak, compressed muscle.
The gluteus medius is one of the three gluteal muscles responsible for support and movement of the hip joint. Its shape is very fan-like with a broad, thick surface that originates on the outer surface of the ilium below the iliac crest and anterior to the gluteus maximus’ origin. This span of muscle then inserts on the greater trochanter of the femur. The outer third region of the gluteus medius is covered by the gluteus maximus and the gluteus minimus is layered deep within the gluteus medius. These layers of muscle within the gluteal group all function with specific actions and if are balanced with strength, flexibility, and pliability help to maintain and support a level pelvis. Unfortunately, sitting for long periods of time day in and day out doesn’t help the cause.
The gluteus medius is versatile in its function which is why it needs our loving attention. In conjunction with the gluteus minimus, it can abduct the thighs away from the midline of the body. When the hip is extended, the posterior fibers of the medius work with the maximus to laterally rotate the hip. Finally, when the hip is in flexion, the anterior fibers of the medius work with the minimus to medially rotate the hip. Not a muscle that should be ignored!
Weakness in the gluteus medius is illustrated very clearly in our normal daily movement patterns of walking. If you think your swagger is cool, consider this: if the hip of the swinging leg drops down too far while walking, an imbalance or weakness within the gluteus medius may be the culprit. Think it stops there? More likely than not, a domino effect can radiate up and down from the pelvis. In the lower body, lack of support in the gluteus medius can travel along the femur, weakening the knees and ankles, and in the upper body, it can create an uneven shoulder girdle which pulls against the neck. In between the shoulders and hips, shortening or underactive shoulder muscles, obliques, psoas, and quadratus lumborum muscles may also suffer.
Thankfully, there is help out there and Yoga Tune Up® offers some fantastic poses that revitalize, strengthen and nourish the hip muscles. Check back in on Friday for a great Gluteus Medius stretch!
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The gluteus medius needs a lot more attention than it seems. Hop! We have to move our buttocks to counter our sitting position.
Wow, who knew this fairly unknown muscle Gluteus Medius had such an affect on so many body parts. Although the more I learn about YTU the more I understand it is all so interconnected.
Great example of how one part of the body can affect the rest.
Great article! Is there a relationship between the glute med and the piriformis?
Awesome! The Glute medius is my 200 work essay for YTU level 1!
I have been working on stronger glutes for over a year now, trying to gain stability and integrity of the pelvis in everything I do. This article is a great reminder for me as to why this is important on so many levels.
Thanks for pointing out that weakness in the gluteus medius not only affects the pelvis and hips, but that these issues have rippling effects throughout the body including the shoulder girdle, neck, core, knees, and ankles. My current ‘trouble spot’ is my neck and shoulders and you’ve inspired me to expand the focus of my self-care strategies to be whole-body and not merely concentrated on the neck and shoulders. Because, like most other people in this modern world, I sit WAY to much.
Thanks for the tips! I’ve been noticing more and more that many of my private yoga clients–mostly women in their 50s or so–have a LOT of trouble engaging glute medius. For some reason I never thought about how a lifetime of sitting (even for the ones that are very active…EVERYONE sits too much) could be one of the culprits. Now in addition to integrating YTU poses that strengthen the abductors into our sessions, I think we will also take a look at how they sit. Standing, too, right? Don’t we all like to stand around with one hip out to the side? Then we wonder about body imbalances 🙂
Thanks for the reminder of how interconnected all our moving parts are. My gluteus medius has been a little neglected of late. This post and recent yoga tuneup training has increased my awareness of this ( and many other) muscles.
This was an interesting article. What I have also noticed is that fact that most people work, move and live in a very sagittal plane. With lack of defined abducting movement, the gluteus medius is also likely to lose strength. Focusing on it with the Yoga Tune Up exercise will increase proprioception of that plane of movement as well.
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I totally agree that our culture is so used to sitting that I’m sure we’re tight in many other places in addition to the gluteus medius. I’ve always seen people walking with a “swagger” but never realized that was associated with a misaligned pelvis. It’s not shocking that the effects of an unlevel pelvis travel throughout the body from the knees to the shoulder girdle. It is a testament to the importance of the pelvis within the skeletal system of the body. Certainly explains all the muscles we have in the hips/midsection of the body that all contribute to keeping the pelvis level and stable. Thank you!
I had no clue that sitting so much throughout our daily lives can have such an impact on gluteus medius. I also just tested out walking with “swagger” across my kitchen while my hands were on my gluteus medius and it totally felt different and weak compared to when I walked “correctly” where I could actually feel the gluteus medius being active in the movement.
I recently identified that I have a misaligned pelvis, and will be adding abductor lifts and other abductor strengtheners into my routine and classes (I know I’m not the only one!). Thank you for pointing out the cause (and potential result) of the ‘swagger’— it is amazing to think of how many other joints (my knees, too?!) a weakness in the gluteus medius can affect.
Did the abductor lifts and realized that I need to do more. YTU provides great tools to assess and access the blind spots!
Wow, tried the new bigger ball to roll out the piriformis and gluteus routine and it is amazing for getting the entire area.
I’m looking forward to trying the new sizes of the YTU balls on the gluteus medius. I think that these will help me to make sure that I’m massaging out the entirety of the gluteals – medius, maximus, minimus. Even though I have a lot of these techniques in my personal and teaching tool bag, I sometimes forget that I can really take charge of my own healing. These blogs are a great testament to the fact that it is in my own hands, I just have to “get on the balls”!
Thank you for highlighting the gluteus medius in its whole-body postural relevance and the cost of sitting on our overall structure. I am always impressed at how challenging “simple-looking” glute medius exercises can be and how great it feels afterwards to have the stability and grounded sense in my legs and pelvis.
Thank you for a great article! I can relate to the way the gluteus medius is related to scapular dysfunction in that an imbalance in the pelvis can travel upwards as well along the posterior chain. I wonder if conversely, shoulder dysfunction or imbalance could also affect the GM…… Regardless, the activities we do in daily life translate into dysfunction if not addressed quickly.
I’m working with student 0 now on his pain. Most of the muscles listed seem to affected including the QL. He first started pointing at his piriformis, then gluteus medius and recently the QL. I’m looking forward to the next blog for some more tools for him to use.
I really appreciate your illustration of the “swagger” to show how the weakness in the gluteus medius can radiate throughout other area of the body.
I never thought I had tight gluteus muscles. Today Jill took us through the therapy ball session for the glutes, and all around the greater trochanter. It felt incredibly intense, so perhaps I do have some contraction there. Although you don’t always feel things locally you can tell by the postural habits of the body. I have been told that my left hip rotates forward which effects the muscles of my low back where my quadratus lumborum is over developed on the right and weak on the left. I’m curious if the gluteus muscles might have a role in this being more contracted on one side than the other. I think this article is yet another demonstration of how interconnected the body is, and how if there is weakness or contracture in one muscle it can create a ripple effect into other seemingly unrelated parts. So it requires a skilled and knowledgeable eye to brain to get to the root of the problem.
the model swagger was a great connection to make! i walked like that for almost 35 years thinking that it was “just the way i was built.” then a spine injury stopped me in my tracks and i spent 9 months getting rolfed, mostly in and around the glutes. the medius was the last to come around, and once it was freed from it’s hypertonic state, i was able to begin walking like an adult instead of an over-sexed teenager. i love the YTU concept of fluffy buttocks – strong and supple glutes is where i am headed these days!
This blog is a good reminder that the kinetic chain is, in fact, a CHAIN. A weak link can affect parts of our body all the way at the opposing end of the issue. The gluteus medius deserves more attention from us and judging by the amount of knee physical therapy that I see each day that involves the strengthening of this muscle…we could all use to give this area of our toosh some love!
When doing Cat and Cow it is obvious how interconnected the pelvis and spine are. However, for some reason we seem to forget about that link when we stand up. This was a great article on the importance of maintaining the integrity of the pelvic girdle so we can keep our spines happy too.
Amy – Thanks for this eye opening and informative article on the mama bear of the gluteal muscles. I agree with you, we are paying a steep price physically for our modern day, western world conveniences like bucket seats, lazy boys, and the non supportive chair that accompany our computer desks. This muscle in the middle is so important to keep the pelvis stable so that the badonkadonk does get out of control. Today in TYU Level I training one of the trainees did a 4 minute therapy ball routine specifically for the medius, WOW, did I feel it. The massage gave me a sense of that little muscle position within the body something that I think is essential in beginning to heal. We cannot heal what we cannot feel.
Wow! This is awesome, this is the first time I realized there was a Gluteus Maximus, Medius AND Minimus and how important the three are will their different functions and influences. It is so important to stretch these three out and palpate the fibers of these muscles! Especially since they control and support so much of our sitting and standing daily habits!
This is a really enlightening article. Great explanation about the swagger. I am currently in a YTU training and learned a lot about my own weaknesses and asymmetry this week, while performing the exercises above as Ariana mentions. Thank you!
I could not agree with you more about the price our gluteus medius pays due to our predominantly seated habits. I am doing the YTU teacher training right now and we just learned the Adductor Slides. This corrective exercise strengthens the gluteus medius but then also strengthens the muscles on the medial side of the hip joint and thighs. This exercise is a great prescription for our desk culture that ails us!
Wow, great insight into the Glute Medius! I never considered that “model swagger” to actually be a weakness/issue with the hips, but now I see it everywhere! Looking forward to trying out the exercises to strengthen the hips!! THaNKS.