Hip Exercises

This past July, an interesting paper was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy which investigated gluteal muscle activation during different exercises. Gluteal exercises can play a role in rehabilitating many different hip injuries, including hip bursitis, hip arthritis, general hip pain and lower back pain. Whether you’re a rehabilitation professional looking to assist someone with an injury or simply looking to tone up the appearance of these muscles, you may find the results of this study useful.

Hip Exercises

The gluteus medius is a gluteal muscle that is best described as being on the “side” of our gluteal area. It assists in several motions, including abduction movements (moving the thigh away from the midline) and stabilizing the pelvis during activity. The authors found that this muscle was most active during side lying abduction. Interestingly, they found that this exercise was approximately twice as effective as side lying clam exercises.

Other Exercises for Hip Pain

According to the authors of this study, other useful exercises were single limb squat, lateral band walk, single leg deadlift and sideways hop. Other exercises studied but deemed as being in the lower “tier” of effectiveness for this muscle were (in descending order of muscle activation) the transverse hop, transverse lunge, forward hop, forward lunge, clam at 30 degrees, sideways lunge and clam at 60 degrees.

Best Exercises for Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is a large gluteal muscle that performs hip extension. The authors of the mentioned study found this muscle to be most active during the single leg squat and the single leg deadlift. This finding is in agreement with other research which found that gluteus maximus activity is greatest during exercises that require single leg balance with hip flexion and extension.

Best Exercise for Your Gluteals?

Interestingly, the gluteus medius was activated to a similar extent during the single leg squat and single leg deadlift, perhaps suggesting that they are a great “bang for your buck” in terms of overall gluteal strengthening.

Hip Strengthening – Is It Necessary?

Hip Pain

Hip Pain

Gluteal strengthening can be very important for rehabilitation of various hip and lower back injuries. Some of these injuries include hip arthritis, hip replacement rehabilitation, hip bursitis, lower back pain, lower back strain, lumbar disk herniation, “slipped disk” and spondylolisthesis to name a few. The rationale varies, but generally speaking it is healthy for a joint to have lots of muscular support around it.

Hip Pain Treatment

Strengthening the various muscles of the hip is important but often not the only solution to hip or lower back pain. Our clinic in Burlington offers a variety of methods to treat hip pain (for example). Active Release Technique, Graston Technique or Laser Therapy have all shown to be effective methods for treating various hip injuries. For more information, feel free to email us at info@burlingtonsportstherapy.com or 905.220.7858.


DiStefano LJ, Blackburn JT, Marshall SW, Padua DA. Gluteal muscle activation during common therapeutic exercises. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 2009; 39(7): 532-540.

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