Watch this gal running on a treadmill at a 1.5% grade at about a 10 minute mile pace. Note that when she is in stance phase on one leg, the contralateral side of the pelvis “drops“. Up to an inch of vertical oscillation of the entire pelvis is expected, but the unilateral “dip” often signals a problem.
The gluteus medius is also known as the “deltoid“ of the hip. It is active pretty much from the time the foot hits the ground until it leaves the ground ( all of stance phase). It is paired anatomically and neurologically with the contralateral quadratus lumborum. Together this pair helps to keep the pelvis level when walking with the gluteus medius pulling the pelvis up from the opposite side and the contralateral quadratus lumborum on the swing leg side lifting the pelvis up.
When you see the pelvis “dip”on the swing leg side or “cruise“ to the stance leg side, this generally means that there is some weakness of pelvic abduction. This can be due to a weakened gluteus medius on the stance leg side, weak quadratus lumborum on the swing leg side, both, or sometimes as a compensation for a leg length discrepancy.
Remediation would include closed chain exercises like hip helicopters and airplanes as well as penguin walks along with gait retraining of the stance leg gluteus medius and swing leg quadratus lumborum. We’ve had success utilizing K tape as well with an inverted triangle over the gluteus medium and an “X” pattern with a vertical strip on the lateral aspect for the quadratus.
Dr. Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys
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