The Gluteus Medius (Glute Med) is one of the most important muscles for injury prevention in the lower limbs, balance and stability. It is also an important muscle for achieving high extension, multiple turns, and beautiful jumps.
As you can see in the picture above, the Gluteus Medius lies deep to the Gluteus Maximus and attaches toward the outside of the hip. Because of the way it attaches, it is an extremely important hip stabilizer. When the Glute Med becomes weak or inactive it can create malalignment in the low back, poor hip mechanics, knee valgus (poor knee tracking), and arch collapse. These mechanical issues can result in a myriad of injuries including low back pain, hip impingement, patellofemoral syndrome, and ankle impingement.
So how do you strengthen the Gluteus Medius?
Unfortunately, most Glute exercises target only the Glute Max. The following exercises are my favorite, quintessential, Glute Med exercises. Incorporate these exercises into your daily routine to decrease your aches and pains from dance, improve technique, and reduce risk for injury!
1. Airplane Squats
To begin this exercise, lift one leg to the back and hinge at the hips to 90 degrees. Make sure to keep both hips parallel and level. Then, bend and straighten your standing leg. Watch the knee on your standing leg- as it bends it should track over your second-third toe. Complete 3 sets of 10 for improved strength and 3-4 sets of 12-15 for improved endurance.
2. Bridges with Single-leg Extension
Begin with a standard bridge- feet hip with apart raising hips up while maintaining a neutral pelvis and core engagement. While at the top of the bridge extend one leg out keeping it level with the other leg, and keep the Pelvis level. Complete 3 sets of 8 with a 5 second hold for strengthening, and 3 sets of 12 with a 10 second hold for endurance.
3. Side Plank with Glute Med Leg Raises
Begin with a high side plank one foot on top of the other. Take the top leg behind the front foot. From there lift the top leg up and down maintaining the plank position. Complete 3 sets of 10 for strength and 3-4 sets of 12-15 for endurance.