The Happy Hip: An Area Runners Should Not Ignore


Gluteus Medius

The Hip Joint

The hip joint is vital for many functions. It connects our torso to our lower limb. The Hip joint is the hinge between our torso and our lower limb. Any changes to the function of the hip can have effects on both injury and performance. A muscle that is discussed a great deal in the world of therapy and rehabilitation, is one that is often neglected when we plan our own exercise routines. That muscle is the gluteus medius. Here, we will discuss the function of the gluteus medius and its implications for injuries, especially in runners.


Sprinting, Jumping, and Changing Directions

Sprinting, jumping, and changing directions are often an essential part of training and competing in the team sports, most of us enjoy in our youth. As we age, many of us turn to more endurance sport, which happens to require gluteus medius activation, are lacking in some of the movements mentioned above. Attachment from the back of the pelvis to the outer part of the hip makes the gluteus medius critical in controlling the position of the knee, ankle, and foot joints.   Decreased conditioning of the gluteus medius muscle, along with prolonged use (eg, A 90-minute run), may lead to larger changes in lower limb mechanics. These changes to a small muscle may have implications for common runners injuries.



Running Injuries

Avoiding Injuries

Most runners’ injuries are applied to the population of people who run for longer distances. As we run for a longer period of time, a proposed mechanism of injury is the fatigue of muscles, which leads to changes in movement. These changes in movement may apply less than desirable loads to ligaments, tendons, and joints. These loads may start to cause pain. In a population of female runners’ with patellofemoral pain (Runners knee), Wilson and colleagues, in 2011, observed a change in the timing and duration of activation of the gluteus medius.






Exercise Those Hips!

When looking at problems with runners there are often many solutions. Some solutions may be simple and some may be complicated. While, we believe that exercises for the knee itself are essential in managing runners knee, a recent review of the literature acknowledged that better outcomes are seen when hip exercises are added to the recovery program for patellofemoral syndrome. These factors, taken together, lend credence to the idea that the hip muscle, gluteus medius, is very important to runners and should not be ignored.


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van der Heijden, Rianne A., et al. “Exercise for treating patellofemoral pain syndrome.” The Cochrane Library (2015).


Willson, John D., et al. “Gluteal muscle activation during running in females with and without patellofemoral pain syndrome.” Clinical biomechanics 26.7 (2011): 735-740.

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