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Hip Stability - Build a Stable Base!

woman on yoga mat doing hip stretches at pursuit of motion physiotherapy

The hip is a stable ball and socket joint, with instability typically caused by weak musculature

Hip stability is important because it is associated with degenerative conditions of the hip and the knee. The hip joint is a very stable ball and socket joint; it has a deep socket (acetabulum) that the femoral head (ball) sits in. The instability of the hip is more directed towards musculature, such as the infamous gluteus medius.

The gluteus medius muscle is responsible for abduction motions (along with medial and lateral rotation), maintaining frontal plane stability of the pelvis, and is an important muscle in walking, running, and single-leg weight bearing.

Research shows that a weak gluteus medius is more common in individuals with hip osteoarthritis and patellofemoral syndrome. A stronger gluteus medius muscle means less load through the joint, which can slow the development of osteoarthritis.

Progression to hip pain

Hip stability is associated with conditions such as hip osteoarthritis and patellofemoral pain syndrome. Hip osteoarthritis is caused when the cartilage in the hip wears away, causing the cartilage to become frayed and rough, and the protective joint space between the bones decreases. This leads to pain, stiffness, locking, and decreased range of motion in the hip.

Hip instability and weakness of hip muscles can also provoke patellofemoral pain syndrome. Patellofemoral pain syndrome is a term for pain arising from the patellofemoral joint itself, or adjacent soft tissues.

In cases of hip osteoarthritis and with patellofemoral pain syndrome, the gluteus medius muscle (along with other hip muscles) is often deconditioned, wasted, and weak. Since this muscle is significant in many weight-bearing activities, it helps to dissipate the load in the joint.

The idea is to increase the strength of this muscle along with others, to reduce the load on the joint. This will be significant to rehab along with re-injury and potential degeneration.


Some exercises you can include in your strength program or warm-up include:

  • Banded side stepping 3 times until fatigue

  • Standing fire hydrant: 7 times for 3 sets

  • Airplanes: 7 times for 3 sets

Bonus! Tips for squats!

We can experience pain along the front of our hip or along the lumbar spine. The solution can be as simple as adjusting posture along with cueing exercises. If our hips are rotated anteriorly (butt sticking out), this can increase the load on the lumbar spine along with the hip flexors. Try to adjust your posture to maintain proper back alignment as you come down into a squat (tighten those glutes)!

Also, try out some warmup exercises to engage the gluteal muscles along with stretching the hip flexors

  • Hip flexor stretch: 3 times for 30-second hold

  • Banded gluteal bridges: 7 reps for 3 sets

We hope this helps with nagging hip issues! Give us a shout if you have any questions or book with one of our great physiotherapists, who can give you the answers to your hip instability.


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