The Importance of the Gluteus Medius Muscle in Tennis

For those who don’t know, the Glute Medius is a muscle that is part of the Gluteus muscle complex. Within the Gluteus muscle complex, there are the following muscles:

  • Glute Max (main responsibility is hip extension + external rotation)
  • Glute Medius (main responsibility is hip abduction + internal rotation)
  • Glute Minimus (which helps the Glute Medius)

The Glutes are the primary movers in hip abduction. Why is abduction important? It allows for dynamic stabilization of your knee during movement such as walking and running. Our knees have the tendency to shift laterally or medially during movement and hip abductions are used to alleviate this issue. While the Glute Med is the primary mover of hip abduction, there is another small muscle that can also perform hip abduction, the Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL), which is attached to the IT Band.

When the Glute Med doesn’t fire or fires incorrectly, one of the stabilizers or assistive muscles steps in to help. In this case, it’s the TFL that steps in to help. There are two issues that arise with this scenario:

  1. It is fine if a stabilizer or assistive muscle steps in to help occasionally, whenever the prime mover is fatigued, but if the prime mover constantly requires the assistance, it means your body is becoming neurologically programmed to use the smaller assistive muscle, which can lead to injury and abnormality.
  2. The TFL is not as big or strong as the Glute Med, which stabilizes the knee, but it is attached to a thick tissue (the IT Band), which can tighten up to statically stabilize the knee. If the IT Band is experiencing added stress from the compensation that it is providing, you will be left with an IT Band that is tight, painful or inflamed.

This muscle plays a critical role in sports where lateral and medial movements are continuous, such as tennis. Neglecting muscle imbalances in the lower body, like the one highlighted in this blog, is one of the main causes of injuries to the hips and ankles, but especially the knees.

When it comes to a sore IT Band, remember, no foam rolling! Foam rolling the IT Band means you are stretching out a tissue that is already over-stretched and inflamed. Instead, focus on firing the prime movers and limit the use of assistive muscles. Start from the basics and strengthen your body to move optimally and efficiently; don’t let your body become over-worked and fatigued due to weak or ineffective muscles.

About the Author:
Oggie Bovan is a Registered Kinesiologist of Ontario and an Exercise Physiologist with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). He has a sports and fitness background and extensive clinical experience in rehabilitating injury. Oggie’s specialty is therapeutic exercise for injury prevention and rehabilitation, ensuring that clients build strength, stability and balance to move efficiently with no limitations.

For more information on Kinesiology at Mayfair Clubs, or to book a consultation, contact the West Wellness Spa at (647) 427-3036.