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Activating Gluteus Medius: Improving the single leg squat

Posted on January 21, 2014

Runners, walkers, gym rats, crossfitters can have problems with performing a squat or single leg squat. I use the single leg squat to assess my patients because a large portion of running, walking, and doing stairs is performed on one leg. ne of the tell!tailed signs of a poor single leg squat, or squat for that matter, is what is known as knee valgus. "e often can see this problem when a person, more often in women, performs a squat or when they land from a #ump. $ote, in the video, how the knees buckle in towards each other. If this movement occurs during a low intensity activity like the one leg squat or squat what happens when the athlete performs this movement with greater intensity or higher volume% "hat sort of strain can be placed on the structures of the foot, ankle, knees, hips and&or lower back% 'here are a number of reasons that the knee will go into valgus. (ommon reasons are that the athlete has limited ankle mobility )the ability to bring the top of the foot towards the shin*, poor quadriceps strength, poor hamstring activation, poor movement patterning )they may have learned the move improperly or adapted due to previous in#uries* or they have poor activation of the gluteus medius muscles. 'he knee valgus is only a sign of another problem. In my practise if I see problems with the squat and one leg squat I check out these causes. 'o assess for activity of gluteus medius I will use the hip abduction test. 'hen I+ll do the maneuvers in the following video by ,r -iebenson. II+ve seen the positive affect of this e.ercise first hand. /y pushing with the bottom hand I can see patients become stronger with hip abduction. 0o it is obvious that the hip abductors )glute medius&minimus* are not weak. 0o what is the problem% It could be that the person doesn+t activate their core adequately. It could be that we are strengthening the chain of tissue that spirals from the pectoralis ma#or to the obliques to the hip abductors1 strengthening the weakest link of a chain makes the entire chain stronger. 'o further turn on this hip musculature ,r -iebenson takes his test and has the patient activate their core and then use the hip through abduction. In essence, we are teaching the hip to work independent of the core1 thus turning on the muscles around the hip. 2fter doing a few reps to practise this movement then we reassess the one leg squat. ,oes this make a difference% If yes, then we need to repeat this activity or challenge it more. 2t recent seminar with ,r -iebenson we saw people with pain during the one leg squat e.perience no pain after performing this simple e.ercise. "e also saw the quality and the ease of movement improve in others. It can be quite a powerful e.ercise. 3inding these powerful e.ercises, that seem to miraculously improve a persons function&performance or reduce their pain, is such an en#oyable part of my practise. 'here are multiple ways to activate the glute medius but that is one place to start.

,r $otley ,rnotley.com