The gluteus medius muscle is one of the muscles on the side of your hip. It resides underneath your gluteus maximus muscle (buttocks muscle), and works with another small muscle, the gluteus minimus, to help support your hip.
What Does the Gluteus Medius Do?
The function of the gluteus medius muscle is to work with other muscles on the side of your hip to help pull your thigh out to the side in a motion called hip abduction. The gluteus medius also serves to rotate your thigh.
The gluteus medius muscle is important in walking. When you're standing on one foot and holding the other leg up in the air, the gluteus medius on the stance leg is very active in helping to keep your pelvis level. For example, when walking and lifting your left leg up and forward, the right gluteus medius is contracting to keep your body level.
Injury to the Gluteus Medius
Injury to the gluteus medius is rare, but it can happen. Muscle and tendon tears might occur as the result of sports participation or falls. And a bursa, or fluid-filled sac, lies between the gluteal muscles and the bony prominence of your hip, and irritation may cause hip bursitis.
The gluteus medius may indirectly contribute to many other lower extremity problems. Weakness in this muscle group has been implicated in conditions such as:
Weakness in your gluteus medius may cause your thigh to angle inwards and rotate abnormally during walking, running, and jumping, which may cause excessive stress through your knee and ankle, and may place you at increased risk of injury if the weakness persists.
If you are having hip pain, knee pain, or any other lower extremity problem, your physical therapist should include a muscular screening of the gluteal muscles. If weakness is identified, specific exercises can be initiated to improve the function of the gluteus medius. These exercises may include:
Just be sure to speak with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise program to make sure it is safe for you to do.
Source: Moore, K. L., & Dalley, A. F. (1999). Clinically oriented anatomy. (4th edition ed.). Williams & Wilkins.