You may have heard before that ‘a strong core is the key to staying injury free’. But what does your core refer to? There are many parts of your core. Most people assume it means your stomach muscle or your abs. Although this makes up part of your core, it is a small part of it. Basically, your core consists of all the muscles on your trunk. This also extends to your hip area too.
Your hip muscles, especially your Gluteus Maximus, Medius and Minimus are probably your most important group of muscles in your body when it comes to sport. These muscles help stabilise your pelvis which gives you the foundation to move by using your legs. It is commonly accepted that lower limb problems, such as knee pain, are greatly influenced by the kinematics of the gluteal muscles. A strong gluteal area often results in longer periods of staying injury free. Take a look at our blog here which focuses on the role the Glutes play in knee pain.
Take the two studies here. The first looks at the relationship between lower limb injury and lower back pain and how hip strength can affect this. The conclusion was that females have a greater risk of developing lower limb injuries and lower back pain as a result of lower hip strength. See the paper here.
The second study here shows how differences in hip kinematics, muscle strength and activation between females with knee pain caused varying levels of pain for the individual. The conclusion was that an increase in hip rotation from weakness in the hips resulted in greater knee pain and was therefore decided that abnormal hip function can result in greater incidences of knee pain occurring. See the paper here.
The study we wish to focus on here looks at what are the best exercises for increasing hip strength, which will ultimately lead to reductions in the prevalence of lower limb injury. The study reports the top 5 exercises for building the strength of the Gluteus Maximus and the Gluteus Medius. For comparison purposes we will include the table to show where other exercises rank so you can compare to your current training programme. The results are based on EMG readings (this is an electrical impulse device which monitors muscle activation).
The first table here shows the best exercises for activating the Gluteus Medius muscle. This muscle is key for engaging your hip on any movement that requires stability, eg, running. The exercises are listed in rank order with it’s percentage of muscle activation listed next to it.
The next table shows the recruitment of muscle fibres for the Gluteus Maximus. This is the biggest muscle in the body and is vital for global stability (eg, any movement of the body). As our biggest and strongest muscle in the body it is important to have good strength in this area .
The table below shows the best 4 exercises for activation of both the Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Maximus.
The following shows an example of the best exercises to activate the Gluteal area by incorporating the exercise that has the highest combined reading for both the Gluteus Medius and the Gluteus Maximus. Based on this study, it is recommended that these are completed in order to develop the strength of these muscles the quickest.
Plank with Hip ext – Start with subject prone on elbows in plank with trunk, hips, and knees in neutral alignment (left). Subject lifts the dominant leg off of the ground, flexes the knee of the dominant leg, and extends the hip past neutral hip alignment by bringing the heel toward the ceiling (right) for one beat and then returns to parallel for one beat.
Side plank – (Start with subject in a side plank position with dominant leg up. Subject is instructed to keep shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles in line bilaterally, and then to rise to plank position with hips lifted off ground to achieve neutral alignment of trunk, hips, and knees. The subject is allowed upper extremity support as seen on left. While balancing on elbows and feet, the subject raises the top leg into abduction (right) for one beat and then lowers leg for one beat. Subject maintains plank position throughout all repetitions.
Single leg squat – Subject stands on the dominant leg, slowly lowering the buttocks to touch a chair 47cm in height for two beats and then extends back to standing for two beats.
This information above has been sourced through this publication here. As always, before conducting any training programme, ensure you have seen a trained professional to ensure the recommendations are suitable for your injury or ability. If you ever wish to discuss any of the information in any of our features then please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Team and we would be happy to help you.
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