Poor hip strength and stability can negatively impact athletic performance and lead to injuries. Specifically, gluteal dysfunction can disrupt running mechanics, lead to excessive pronation and encourage TFL dominance. According to Barton et al. (1) this exercise was found to be the third most effective exercise behind clamshells with and without resistance in preferentially activating the gluteal musculature over the tensor fascia latae (GTA index).
Execution: Stand on the left leg with a slightly bent knee on top of a stability trainer. Slowly squat down and then extend the left hip and drive the right knee/leg forward and upward as high as possible. Pause at the top and then repeat this sequence. Perform 10 repetitions on each side, and repeat for 2-3 sets.
Emphasis should be on form at all times. Consider allowing clients to perform the exercise in front of a mirror for visual feedback. If balance proves challenging with or without valgus collapse, you may allow the client to use fingertip stability on a static object until control improves enough to ensure appropriate patterns. Likewise, a light toe touch on the floor can be used for the moving leg for the same reasons. If this still proves too difficult, regress it by moving to the floor.
Application: This exercise will effectively recruit the gluteal musculature more favorably over the TFL thereby promoting closed chain hip stability. This in turn, will reduce frontal plane collapse, which is a concern when working to prevent ACL injuries as well as eliminate patellofemoral pain. For endurance runners, this exercise offers an excellent training tool to optimize hip strength and running mechanics, while reducing overuse injuries such as ITB syndrome and plantar fasciitis.
1. Bishop BN, Greenstein J, Etnoyer-Slaski JL, Sterling H, Topp R. Electromyographic analysis of gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and tensor fascia latae during therapeutic exercises with and without elastic resistance. IJSPT. 2018;13(4):668-675.