The last post on the gluteus maximus naturally gives way to talking about the other muscles of the area. Today I’ll discuss the gluteus medius. This muscle sits underneath the gluteus maximus, attaching at one end to the ilium of the pelvis and at the other to the greater trochanter of the femur – that’s the knobbly bit you can feel when you stick your hip out to one side.
This muscle isn’t used for standing in the same way that gluteus maximus is. This one is essential for walking. It, together with the gluteus minimus and the tensor fascia latae, supports the body upright when one foot is raised from the ground. Essentially, it stops you from falling over to one side when walking. The action of the muscle is to abduct the femur – that is, take the thigh away from the midline of the body. It also turns the knee inwards (internal rotation) when the hip is flexed (knee raised in front) and turns the knee outward (external rotation) when the hip is extended (leg behind you).
The test for this is to get a patient standing level and then ask them to raise one leg slowly. If the opposite hip drops, it suggests a weak or impeded gluteus medius. Another sign that can be observed is the tendency to scuff the inside of the shoes. A weakness in the medius can lead to the inside of the feet rubbing past each other when walking. A tight gluteus medius will often come from activities that require one leg to support the whole person, such as in soccer when you are supporting on one side and kicking with the other.
But never fear, it’s not the end of the world. If your muscle is in spasm, Bowen therapy or remedial massage can help. If the muscle is weak, then good old clams can help to strengthen it. Lying on the floor on your side with the knees bent slightly in front of you, slowly raise the topmost knee in the air while keeping the ankles together and then close. It looks kind of like a mollusc opening and closing it’s shell. Of course, you really need to get this checked professionally and not do a Google Doctor on yourself!