I just wanted to post a quick update about exercises to strengthen the Gluteus Medius muscle, having written an in-depth piece elsewhere last week.
If you’ve read much of my site you will know that this is a really important muscle for runners. If you have a weakness here it can lead to many different injuries, including patellofemoral knee pain and IT band syndrome.
There’s been quite a lot of debate about which are the best exercises to use to strengthen this muscle. Some exercises are more functional than others, some isolate the muscle better and others produce a higher percentage of muscle contraction. It is of course also important that whatever exercise you are performing doesn’t cause you any pain or aggravate an existing injury.
Options include (but are not limited to):
- Side lying hip abduction
- Clam (and it’s variations)
- Side plank
- Hip hitch (aka pelvic drop)
- Single leg squat
- Lateral band walk
All of these are valid exercises for strengthening the glute med. My personal favourites are the side lying hip abduction, for its simplicity and great %MVIC (max voluntary isometric contraction); hip hitch due to its functionality for runners and the single leg squat – again for its functionality, but also its ability to fire all of the important hip muscles for runners.
The thing I will say, is that for all of these exercises, technique is key! This is especially true with the single leg squat. Perfect form is difficult to achieve and you need to already have a certain amount of strength and flexibility to do it right. Watch videos on YouTube of how best to do it and then watch yourself in a mirror. The first minute of this video will show you the common mistakes: https://youtu.be/v2hX4qry5jY
You may only manage a couple with good form, but you can build on this as your strength and balance improves!
I really believe that every runner should be doing some strength training, especially for the glute and core muscles. This really can make a difference to your running form and therefore efficiency and performance and of course reduces your injury risk!