Gluteus Medius and Minimus
Last month we discussed the gluteus maximus, so this month we are going to cover the other two muscles that make up the gluteal group – the gluteus medius and minimus. For the most part these muscles are covered by the gluteus maximus except for the uppermost and forwardmost portion of the gluteus medius. This is the part that you will hear me refer to as the “side butt™.” The medius and minimus are smaller than the maximus (go figure), and the medius is larger than the minumus (another brain buster).
These two muscles share almost the exact same functions, which consist of stabilizing the pelvis during walking or running and abducting the thigh (lifting leg away from the body). Both muscles also medially rotate thigh at the hip (turn toes inward), however only the anterior fibers of the medius muscle produce this motion, therefore, the minimus tends to be the primary muscle for this motion. The gluteus medius is the only one of the two that is able to laterally rotate the thigh at the hip (turn your feet and knee out), and does so with its posterior fibers.
The medius and minimus are important in walking, running and single leg weight-bearing as they prevents the opposite side of the pelvis from dropping during during these activities. When a limb is taken off the ground the pelvis on the opposite side will tend to drop through loss of support from below. These muscles work to maintain the side of the pelvis that drops therefore allowing the other limb to swing forward for the next step.
By just moving like a normal person we will work these muscles, much in the same way as the gluteus maximus. However, if you are looking to directly target these muscles to strengthen them or fix an imbalance, focus on banded walks, especially side to side motions, and abductions.