Gluteus Medius Exercise: The Clam Shell

gluteus mediusGluteus medius is one of the more important muscles for physical therapists. And it could just be a coincidence but student after student in the last few months have mentioned gluteus medius issues they were working on in PT.

This raises the interesting issue of how many people are in physical therapy for one thing or another, and also speaks to the insidiousness of gluteus medius because so many people truly do have problems with it.

The gluteus medius pulls the leg away and rotates it internally, along with its close relation gluteus minimus. These muscles often suffer for a tight piriformis which they underlay. If the piriformis muscle is tight the muscles have no real way to find a healthy resting tone.

In yoga, gluteus medius is working in such standing poses as eagle, Utthitta Hasta Padangusthasana and ardha chandrasana. Unfortunately in the course of yoga classes it is easy to recruit every muscle but the gluteus medius to accomplish an action.

So here is the classic physical therapy exercise that is almost guaranteed to isolate the gluteus medius as much as any other pose.

gluteus medius

Gluteus Medius Exercise: The Clam Shell (Two Variations)
  • Start by lying on your left side, with your knees bent and the right leg on top of the left with the feet together.
  • Maintain a neutral spine, engaging your abdominals if you need to.
  • Stack the hips and don’t let the top hip move backwards.
  • From this position, raise your knee slowly using your gluteus medius. Hold the top position for 5 seconds.
  • Lower slowly for five seconds.
  • Another option is to raise the top knee slowly, hold for five seconds and then lower slowly only about half way maintaining an active muscle.
  • Raise the knee back up work within these parameters.


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