What are you hip abductors?
Most often when your osteo or physio practitioner is talking about your “hips” they are talking about the groups of muscles that cause movement in and around the hip joint. Generally these muscles are grouped into the following categories:
- Extensors – these pull your leg back behind you
- Rotators – these cause both inward (internal, pigeon toed) and outward (external, duck or ballerina stance) rotation of your leg
- Flexors – these pull your leg forwards in front of you or lift it off the ground
- Adductors – these squeeze your legs together or cross your leg over the midline to the other side
- Abductors – these pull or lift your leg out to the side away from the middle of your body (your midline)
Not only do the muscles in and around your hips play a critical role in athletic performance, they also help you stay injury free. Having weak hips limits your range of motion and leads to muscular imbalances, faulty mechanics, poor movement patterns or in some cases shearing forces on opposing muscles, potentially causing injury. Weak hips can cause a ripple effect of improper mechanics throughout the body.
Why do hip abductors get weak and how can we strengthen them?
Lots of us spend a large amount of time in a seated position and this can lead us to develop weak glut (buttock) muscles, which include the hip abductors. Being inactive for a long time can lead to the body essentially ‘turning off’ these muscles, making them harder to use (activate) during exercise. This can make your body resort to using other muscles which are not meant for the tasks your hip abductors should be doing.
Here are a bunch of exercises that you can use to activate and strengthen your hip abductors: