Flexing Your Flexors: Exercising Your Hips to Avoid Repetitive Strain Injuries

There’s more to your butt than just the gluteus maximus.  Check out that gluteus medius.  That’s right, I said it.  Gluteus medius weakness is the main reason for a number of repetitive strain injuries and overuse injuries in the lower half of the body.  The medius is the second largest of the three that make up that area of the body, and it seldom gets the attention that the maximus does when people focusing on toning their main asset.  Gluteus medius exercises vary, but they’re literally attached at the hip.  Hip flexor exercises are important, key ways to train this muscle.      A combined 2012 study by the University of Wisconsin and University of Nevada concludes three categories of exercise are best for this part of the body.  Here they are.

Hip Abductor Exercises

So what are the three exercises the study examined?  Here’s a walkthrough:

1. Hip Abductor Exercises

These exercises open the area between the legs by spreading the leg outward.   One sample exercise is the Front to Back Hip Swing.

With this one, you’ll be laying on your side and propping your head up with your hand, elbow at an angle on the floor – live a cover girl.

The key is keeping your foot level with your hip.  Doing this alone requires some degree of strength, so working on holding that position might be considered an exercise in its own right.  But that’s just a stepping stone.  At this point, make sure your abs are tight, or clenched.  In this exercise, once you’ve got your leg lifted slightly and thus your foot level with the hip, you’ll extend your leg out in front of you.  Keep your leg level.  Then, swing your leg back the other way, behind you as far as you can.  Clench your butt to balance the movement.

2. Hip Abduction with External Rotation

An external rotation would add a twist of the leg with toes pointing upward in the exercise mentioned above.  The idea has typically been to exercise the gluteus maximus more, but this study found that wasn’t really happening with this modification.

3. Clamshell Exercises

The idea here is to work your external rotator muscles and abductors.  This study didn’t find so much work going into those areas.  Even though it doesn’t work the major glute muscles, it still activates the anterior hip flexors.

What Conclusions to Draw?

Some of these exercises aren’t what people imagined they would be.  This is just one study, though.  Either way, why not optimize your exercises and have a better focus on your muscles?  Your bottom deserves more attention, even if it is the butt of every exercise joke.

Check back for more soon.

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