One simple hip screen that gives you lots of information.
This is the one leg standing test. We use it as a hip function (abduction) screen(as well as an exercise), to see if a person’s gluteus medius is working in a functional situation (as opposed to manual muscle testing).
As you may remember (don’t remember? Click here), the gluteus medius fires throughout stance phase (ie; when the foot is on the ground). It keeps the pelvis level while the foot is on the ground and works in conjunction with the opposite quadratus lumborum muscle (if you have not read up on this, please see our groundbreaking work on the problematic cross over gait, found here, here and here).
The test is simple; try it on yourself while watching yourself in a mirror. Stand on one leg on your foot tripod (the heel, base of big toe and base of little toe). Raise the opposite foot off the ground by flexing the thigh. Observe.
You should see the pelvis remaining level with no shift of the torso or hips.
- · Pelvic drift to the side you are standing on
- · Pelvis drop on the side opposite you are standing on
- · Body lean to the side you are standing on
- · Excessive hiking of the opposite, non weight bearing hip
- · Any combination of the above
Seeing any (or all) of these means the gluteus medius is probably having some trouble. The reason we say probably is that a person with a hip problem (like arthritis) or an anatomically short leg may do some of these things in compensation.
The question you are hopefully asking is why do they drift, lean, hike, etc? Not everything you see is muscle weakness per se.
- · Maybe they have a balance issue
- · Maybe they have a disc injury
- · Maybe they have injury to the nerve going to the gluteus medius
- · Maybe they have a knee/ankle/foot issue
- · And the list goes on…
So, if it were a muscle weakness, how could you fix it? Determine the cause. Begin at the bottom with foot exercises: tripod standing, lift/spead/reach with the toes etc. Then have them repeat the exercise IN A MIRROR, maintaining a level pelvis. Yes, it is that simple. Now see if they can translate that to their gait cycle. If so, great. If not, start again and repeat till they can.
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