What could be causing my hip pain?

The gluteal muscles, commonly known as the glutes, are a group of three muscles – gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimums – that attach from the pelvis and sacrum to the femurs. These muscles are involved in motion at the hip joint, also known as the femoroacetabular joint. Collectively, the gluteal muscles allow for extension, abduction, external rotation and internal rotation.

The hip joint connects our legs to our torso. An issue with the muscles here can create an imbalance in the surrounding areas potentially leading to pain spreading to the ankles, knees, hips and lower back. A common cause for this pain is gluteal dysfunction. This occurs when the gluteal muscles have a reduction in strength and/or endurance. This results in other muscles in the surrounding area overworking, making them perform actions and generate forces they are not intended to do. This leads to poor biomechanics and generates pain.

Overcoming Gluteal Dysfunction

Gluteal dysfunction can be corrected with a few exercises. When choosing the exercises, it is important to pick ones that activate the targeted muscles with sufficient intensity to strengthen them. Moore, Semciw and Pizzaria conducted a systematic review/meta analysis looking at 56 studies to determine the best exercises when trying to improve the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus

Here are 4 that will target all the segments of these two muscles

Hip hitch/pelvic drop

  • Stand straight up on the edge of a step with one foot on the step and the other hanging off the edge on the side. Drop the hip on the side with the foot hanging off the step then pull the hip back up to neutral using the muscles on the side with the foot standing on the step.

Isometric standing hip abduction

  • Stand roughly at a half step distance from a wall with the affected side of your body nearest to the wall. Gentry push the affected leg out into the wall and hold for 10 seconds then relax. Ensure your body stays straight and does not lean against the wall while performing this exercise.

Dip test

  • Place one foot on a step behind you, ensuring you are on the toes. The other foot stays flat on the floor while you assume a squat position. Do not go so low that your heel comes off the ground and ensure you keep your trunk upright.

Single leg bridge

  • Lay on your back with your knees bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor. Extend one knee so the foot is in the air while the other foot remains on the floor. Press your hips up in the air through the heel of the foot on the floor then lower down.

Looking for some other exercises to help with general back pain? Check out our post about the McGill Big 3 HERE!

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  1. Moore DM, Semciw AI, Pizzari T. A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis Of Common Therapeutic Exercises That Generate Highest Muscle Activity In The Gluteus Medius And Gluteus Minimus Segments. IJSPT [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 18];15(6)856-881. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33344003/