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!