In attending physical therapy for a lower body injury, you may find yourself completing exercises that are seemingly unrelated to the injury in which you have sustained. There is a method behind the madness, and here it is!
The Gluteus Medius Muscle, is one in particular that you may find your physical therapist targeting with exercises such as side-lying clamshells, lateral walks against banded resistance and/or single leg stance for varied amounts of time. The Gluteus Medius functions to abduct, or move the hip away from midline; however, when in a closed kinetic chain position (standing position) helps to prevent hip adduction which is most commonly seen as medial knee collapse.
Now, why is preventing medial knee collapse so important?
With functional activities, such as squatting or jumping, medial knee collapse, or in fancy terms, dynamic genu valgus, increases distraction stress on medial knee joint structures such as the MCL and compression stress on lateral structures (LCL and lateral meniscus). Dynamic genu valgus also puts the knee at a mechanically disadvantageous position to perform the quick reactionary movements that athletes need while also increasing risk for ACL injuries, which are reported to be as high as 200,000 occurrences annually, with 100,000 ACL reconstructions performed each year. To take this concept one step further, the hip muscles also improve positioning at the ankle/foot, preventing pronation, which allows the foot to act as a ridged lever to propel our bodies forward in running.
To balance out the pull of the gluteus medius and other hip abdcutors, the adductors function to stabilize the hip and knee during functional movements. These muscles are commonly trained with exercises such as ball squeezes in a hook-lying position, or with standing resisted hip adduction.
You may commonly find yourself completing table-based exercises while in physical therapy; but how is this functional? At the Spine and Health Center of Montvale, we aim to get you up, and get functional with exercise. Here you may find yourself doing compounded exercises, such as TRX squats with banded abduction resistance, single leg standing knee control exercises while doing various upper and lower extremity reaching drills, or jumping drills to train neuromuscular patterns. These functional exercises will strengthen, promote muscular endurance, improve balance and proprioception, increase neuromuscular control and take your athletic abilities to the next level.
Check out our page about our Complex Physical Therapy Protocols to learn more. Suffering from a knee injury or just had shoulder surgery? Call us now to schedule a physical therapy evaluation so we can help you get you on the road to recovery and beyond. Our goal is not just to help you get out of pain and restore function, but to help you get to a level of strength, mobility, and overall function that is even better and higher than before your injury or surgery!