Hail! Gluteus Medius and its Role in Knee Pain
Gluteus Medius is one of the the three main gluteal muscles. The main function of the gluteus medius is abduction, or moving the leg away from the body. This is a function rarely performed alone in most sports and requires coactivation of other muscle groups.
Its most important function is to provide stabilisation of the pelvis during single leg stances such as when running or walking. A strong gluteus medius can stabilise the pelvis on the stance leg and prevent the opposite hip from dropping downwards (known as Trendelenberg’s sign). This function is obviously important to maintaining good form while running. When a Trendelenberg sign is present, we also see knee valgus (the knee moves medially/inwards towards the opposite knee), which creates tension and friction at the knee and hip joint due to the attachment of the Iliotibial band (ITB).
Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome is considered by most to be an overuse injury most commonly seen in runners and cyclists. The most common symptom is a “snapping” sensation of the hip when the knee flexes and extends during the running motion. However, some people can experience debilitating lateral knee pain, where the ITB inserts on the patella and tibia. Here, the thick fascia that becomes inflamed from the friction of rolling over the lateral femoral epicondyle.
There are a variety of different management strategies for this particular syndrome. Ensuring appropriate footwear and if indicated, orthotics should be an early consideration. That’s obviously where a good running assessment is required.
Stretching, massage, rest (i.e. cross training/running in water…), strengthening of gluteus medius and other muscles and tendons in the functional kinetic chain, have all been reported to be successful interventions. If conservative care fails, steroid injections may be indicated.
Carrying out a functional assessment to correct any imbalance between muscle groups such as hamstrings and quadriceps, or hip abductors (including gluteus medius) and hip adductors (groin) can also prove very useful. Weakness of any of these muscles around the hip, pelvis and knee will contribute to both the severity and chronicity of this syndrome.
Essentially, a strong gluteus medius muscle means a more efficient running style, which will improve performance, decrease the likelihood of any hip or knee injury, and keep you running further, for many years to come!
by Dr Greg Sher, M-Chiro (SA), principle chiropractor at the Sydney Spine and Sports Clinic in the City and Double Bay.
A great blog we just wrote for The Running Company – Potts Point
Chiropractors specialise in optimising the function of the spine. By improving posture, we can help improve many aspects of your health.
Call Sydney Spine and Sports and get to the bottom of your pain.