Kinesiology of Exercise

Hip Joint Abduction

Hip abduction is very important for
athletes because it is the key action for executing lateral movement. In
addition, the gluteus medius, which is involved in hip abduction, is the main muscle involved in holding the pelvis level while a person is walking or running. 

Major Muscles and Actions Involved

The major muscle involved in hip (thigh) abduction is the gluteus medius. Some anatomists believe that the gluteus minimus is also a prime mover. In this exercise the leg is pulled out to the side of the body away from the midline.

Sports Uses

Leg (hip) abduction is used in all sports requiring side stepping or movement to the side (lateral movement). This includes soccer, baseball, football, lacrosse, field and ice hockey, handball, basketball, volleyball, and racquet sports such as tennis and racquetball. Leg abduction is also the key action in shifting your body weight in the hitting and throwing sports. This occurs when you push off your rear leg to get your body weight onto your forward leg.

Exercise Analysis

  • It is very important that your body remain in a straight line during execution of this exercise. When you are in a seated position, the gluteus medius ends up in a curved position from origin to insertion. Thus, when you do multiple repetitions you can irritate the joint, which in time can cause injury.
  • It should also be noted that when your body is in a straight position, it duplicates more closely the actions used in everyday and sports activities like running, jumping, cutting and walking. The effects from doing the exercise with a straight body position are much stronger than if you had flexion in the hip joint during execution.
  • It is necessary to keep your upper body erect at all times because there is a tendency to lean away from the direction that the leg is moving. In doing so, the abductor muscles of the moving leg are not being engaged. This is why it is important that you stabilize the upper body during execution. 
  • To make the exercise easier many individuals point their toes outward to increase the ROM. However, when you do this you are doing more hip flexion than hip abduction. This is why it is important to keep your toes pointed directly forward, in line with your legs. Keep in mind that the true, effective ROM in this exercise is only about 45° -- unless you also rotate the pelvis.
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