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The lateral pelvic stabilizers include the tensor fasciae latae, the gluteal complex and several small underlying muscles including the piriformis, obturator externus, obturator internus and gamellus. Weakness or imbalances in any of these muscles can lead to issues in the lower back, hip, knee or ankle. Performing exercises that target the lateral pelvic stabilizers will help correct any existing problems while preventing any future complications.
The glute bridge is an excellent stabilizing exercise that targets the entire gluteal complex. Lie face up on an exercise mat with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Pull your belly button into your spine and contract your glutes to lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold the position for two to five seconds then lower back to the floor. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions. To increase the difficulty of the exercise, hold a weight across the front of your hips.
Side Bridge Hip Abduction
This challenging exercise improves pelvis stability as well as core strength. Lie on your right side with your right elbow supporting your upper body and your knees and ankles stacked. Contract your abdomen then lift your hips off the floor by creating a bridge with your body. As you lift your hips, simultaneously lift your left leg away from your right leg. Slowly lower your legs and hips back to the floor. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions then repeat the exercise with your other side. Flex your top knee and hip during the lift to work the smaller lateral pelvic stabilizing muscles.
Lateral Band Steps
Lateral band steps will help dynamically strengthen your lateral pelvic stabilizers. Tie a resistance band around your legs a few inches above your ankles. Begin with your legs shoulder-width apart so that there is some resistance in your band. Stabilize your abdomen, place your hands on your hips then take a small step to the right with your right leg. Follow with your left leg then take a small step to the left. Continue to step back and forth until you've completed 15 to 20 repetitions to each side.
Lying Iliotibial Stretch
While strengthening is a very important component to a lateral pelvic stabilization program, stretching is also crucial -- tight muscles are just as dangerous as weak ones. To stretch the muscles of the lateral pelvis, lie on your right side with your right arm under your head. Bend your left knee, grasping your left foot with your right hand. Gently pull your foot toward your glutes while simultaneously using your right foot to gently push your left knee toward the floor. Breathe deeply while you hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds then repeat the exercise on your other side.