Strengthening the Hip Abductors
Michael Ross, MSEd, PTTHE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 24 - NO. 1 - JANUARY 96
Many common exercises, like partial squats, involve movement mainly to the front and back. Such exercises are good conditioners for activities like bicycling and using stair machines and treadmills, which primarily require back-and-forth motion. But most sports and many daily activities require side-to-side motion. To prepare your body for a variety of stresses, you need to build strength for those motions, too.
The muscles most responsible for sideways leg motion are the hip abductors on the sides of your hips. These muscles help move your legs out and away from each other. They play a large role in steadying forward movements, not to mention their importance in sports like tennis and golf that require a lot of side-to-side motion or stability. Including hip-abductor strengthening in your exercise regimen will help with daily activities and sports and will lower your injury risk. These strengtheners are especially good for people who have had hip or low-back pain.
The exercises in figures 1 through 3 help strengthen your hip abductors. These exercises are simple and don't take much time, so you can easily fit them into your training.
For each exercise, build up to three sets of 20 repetitions, 3 to 4 days per week, if possible. Go slowly, and rest only long enough between sets to let your muscles recover from the slight burning sensation they will experience. As the exercises become easier over time, you can add ankle weights in 1- to 2-lb increments as long you have no pain.
Remember: This information is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. Before starting an exercise program, consult a physician.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Department of Defense, the US Air Force, or other federal agencies.
Mr Ross is the director of physical therapy services with the 39th Medical Group of the United States Air Force at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. He is a member of the Orthopaedic and Sports sections of the American Physical Therapy Association.