We think about the gluteus medius often, mostly, during stance phases of locomotion. But, do not forget about the absolutely necessary function of the gluteus medius on the swing limb. Foot placement of that swing leg is in part dictated by how well the pendulum leg receives gluteus medius control to abduct the leg. When it fails to abduct adequately, a more adducted/medial foot placement occurs (think deeply about our long posts and podcast rants on the cross over gait, the narrow based walking and running gait style).
An agreeable balance between the abductors and adductors affords a more pure forward saggital pendulum of the hinging leg. When imbalanced, from insufficient gmedius and the rest of the abductory team, the foot and leg can target a more medial pendulum swing and thus a more medial foot target placement. Thus, the gluteus medius is important in both the stance and swing phases of gait. Failure to develop the skill, endurance and strength of the gluteus medius and related complex of muscles during stance AND swing phases will often result in frontal plane pelvis drift on the stance limb, and adduction targeting of the foot (narrow step width). What is this called ? We call it the Cross Over gait and we have written oodles of articles about this gait phenomenon, more than anyone else. It is real, it has economical advantages and similar liabilities. Want to learn more, type it into the SEARCH box on our website-blog. Many people thinkn this is a normal gait, how we should all walk and run. And they are wrong, in part. Like most things, it has a place, but not a permanent place. We think like most things in this world, there is a benefit and a drawback to things, and it is how you use it, as long as you read the instructions. Sadly, we were never given a "users manual" when we were born, so we all did what felt natural and safe. It doesn't mean it was right.
-Dr. Shawn Allen
For our Patreon patrons:
read and digest this post again before i film a video of a critical exercise we use to train the gluteus medius in BOTH PHASES ! All to often people just train the glute medius in the stance phase, and that is critical, but the swing phase is just as critical ! And this exercise i will film and post up on Patreon in the next 24 hours or so will help with this swing phase, but stance phase too. Be sure, when you study the video, that you do not get bogged down in what the exercise looks like. That is the easy part. For you to train yourself and your client, there MUST be a deep understanding of the specifics of the exercise. You have likely seen versions of this exercise other places, but it is the how and the why, and not getting sloppy with it, that is the key factor.
Photo: this came in an old box of Altra shoes, a brochure. We love Altras, they aren't for everyone, but if you are looking for a lower heel drop shoes with a wide toe box, try out a pair !