One of the most feared when it comes to aging and even in sports is hip weakness. Hip weakness is common among activity-related injuries especially in sports such as running and cycling. That’s why athletes and non-athletes are becoming more and more aware of their hip strength.
Physical Therapists recommend hip abduction exercises since it targets your hip muscles, namely the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus and the tensor fasciae latae. Quite a mouthful to say those names? Well, just remember them as your hip muscles. And this type of exercise might take time since you’ll be starting slowly but this is mostly for your safety.
Hip abduction refers to the movement “away” from the body. The benefits you get from this type of exercise is:
All exercises that your trusty Physical Therapists give you would always gear towards injury prevention. Ever heard of the “knock knee” position? This happens when your hip abductors are weak and the knees eventually move inwards when you walk or run and results in muscle strain. Hips abductor exercises would help maintain proper alignment of the lower part of our body and to safely and efficiently move.
Where there’s an injury there’s pain. Patients who undergo hip abduction exercises suffer from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (PFPS) and other hip-related injuries. PFPS for example causes pain behind the kneecap brought on by prolonged sitting. Studies also have shown that having PFPS is connected to hip weakness and that Hip abductor exercise helps a lot in managing knee pain and stability.
Improves Strength and Agility
Hip abductor exercises help in strengthening the hip area all the way to the knee which in turn helps in moving and shifting direction with ease. Strengthening your hips will also improve your agility.
Some of the exercises that you can also do are the following:
Hip Abduction (with cable)
This type of hip exercise using the cable machine can be powerful in developing your hip abductors. You can do this with your Physical Therapist by setting up a cable machine at the lowest pulley setting. Then attach the ankle slip to your foot and hold the machine for stability with your near hand.
Keep both of your legs straight, contract your hip abductors to bring your outer leg straight out to the side (you might need your PT to help you)
Pause at the top and slowly return to your starting position and repeat.
This exercise is one of the good alternatives in targeting your hip abductors. In this exercise, you assume a standing position with your toes slightly “ flared out” and your feet wider than your shoulder-width apart.
While keeping your legs straight, bend your knees and shift your weight on your right side.
Repeat this process on the left side, keep switching legs thereafter.
Leg Out Side Kickouts
This is one of the most challenging exercises to test your gluteus medius stamina. In this exercise, you have to assume a starting position on all fours with your hands directly under your shoulders.
You have to bend your knee, then kick out your leg and straighten it again
Repeat the process on your other leg
Lying Hip Abduction
With this type of hip exercise, your main target would be the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. You start by lying on your side with your legs straight out and your upper body supported by your forearms.
Squeeze your glutes minimus to raise your top leg as high as you can. Your Physical Therapist will assist you on this.
Pause at the top and slowly return to the starting position. Don’t do it too fast to avoid strain.
Repeat the process if you can tolerate switching legs
A study showed positive results with a six-week exercise program that included the strengthening of the hip abductors. But of course, results for your hip abductors would still depend on your medical condition and evaluation done by your Physical Therapist.