Leg Pain? Are you SURE its a disc?

Gluteus minimus dysfunction is often present in gait disorders, including stance phase mechanical problems, since it fires from initial contact through pre swing, like it better known counterpart, the gluteus medius. It is interesting that the trigger point referral pattern of the gluteus minimus has a sciatic distribution, whereas the gluteus medius is more in the local area of the hip. 

 There are several, well known effects of dry needling:

decreased central sensitization

increased range of motion

changes in muscle activation

changes in the chemical environment surrounding a trigger point

changes in local and referred pain

and now we can add (not surprisingly), changes in autonomic function. The mechanism probably has something to do with pain and the reticular formation sending information down the cord via the lateral cell column (intermediolateral cell nucleus) or pain (nociceptive) afferents sending a collateral in the spinal cord to the dysfunctional muscle (Dr Ivo talks about these mechanisms in his dry needling and acupuncture lectures). 


The presence of active TrPs within the gluteus minimus muscle among subacute sciatica subjects was confirmed. Every TrPs-positive sciatica patient presented DN related vasodilatation in the area of referred pain. The presence of vasodilatation suggests the involvement of sympathetic nerve activity in myofascial pain pathomechanism.

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015; 15: 72. Published online 2015 Mar 20. doi:  10.1186/s12906-015-0587-6PMCID: PMC4426539 Intensive vasodilatation in the sciatic pain area after dry needling

link to full text: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4426539/

Have a patient with weak hip abductors? Here is a great closed chain gluteus medius exercise called “"hip airplanes” we utilize all the time. Try it in yourself, then try it on your patients and clients, then teach others : )

How do your gluteus maximus and gluteus medius exercises stack up?

Looks like side planks (DL=dominant leg) and single leg squats scored big, as did front planks and good old “glute squeezes”

Check out this free full text articlehttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3201064/

Yes, we know it was surface emg; yes we know they are not necessarily testing functional movements. The EMG does not lie and offers objective data. Note that the one graph is labelled wrong and is the G max, not medius.

Kristen Boren, DPT,1 Cara Conrey, DPT,1 Jennifer Le Coguic, DPT,1 Lindsey Paprocki, DPT,1 Michael Voight, PT, DHSc, SCS, OCS, ATC, CSCS,1 and T. Kevin Robinson, PT, DSc, OCS1 ELECTROMYOGRAPHIC ANALYSIS OF GLUTEUS MEDIUS AND GLUTEUS MAXIMUS DURING REHABILITATION EXERCISES Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Sep; 6(3): 206–223.


Want to strengthen that gluteus medius we were talking about Monday? Have you considered walking lunges with dumbbells? These seem to activate the side contralateral to a better extent than split squats.

We wonder if you get the same effect with a medicine ball. Anyone out there have some data or experience with that?

Stastny P1, Lehnert M, Zaatar Zaki AM, Svoboda Z, Xaverova Z. DOES THE DUMBBELL CARRYING POSITION CHANGE THE MUSCLE ACTIVITY DURING SPLIT SQUATS AND WALKING LUNGES? J Strength Cond Res. 2015 May 8. [Epub ahead of print]

The mighty Gluteus Medius, in all its glory!

Perhaps the delayed action of the gluteus medius allows an adductory moment of the pelvis, moving the center of gravity medially. This could conceivably place additional stress on the achilles tendon  (via the lateral gastroc) to create more eversion of the foot from midstance on

“The results of the study demonstrate altered neuromuscular control of the GMED and GMED in runners with Achilles Tendonitis. During running, GMED typically activates before heel strike so as to stabilize the hip and the pelvis. In runners with Achilles Tendonitis, GMED is activated with a delay, which consequently might affect the kinematics of knee and ankle resulting in rear foot inversion. Similarly, GMAX is activated with a delay and for a shorter duration in runners with Achilles Tendonitis. GMAX is the primary hip extensor and via a kinetic chain, a decreased hip extension moment might be compensated by an increased ankle plantarflexion moment which could potentially increase the load on the Achilles tendon.”

Franettovich Smith MM1, Honeywill C, Wyndow N, Crossley KM, Creaby MW. : Neuromotor control of gluteal muscles in runners with achilles tendinopathy.
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Mar;46(3):594-9.

Does this guy have a short leg or what? How good are your eyes?

One again, we had the gait cam, investigating gait on the east coast. What do we see in this gent?

  • heel strike on out side of left foot with increased progression angle

he appears to be stabilizing the left side during stance phase. notice the upper torso shift to the left during left stance phase

  • abbreviated arm swing on right

note that ankle rocker is adequate on the left

  • body lean to right on right stance phase

gluteus medius weakness on right? short leg on right?


  • Did you also notice the loss of ankle rocker on the right, compared to the left? This results in less hip extension on that side as well.
  • He flexes his right thigh less than his right during pre swing and swing

external obliques should be firing to initiate hip flexion, perpetuated by the psoas, iliacus and rectus femoris. This does not appear to be happening.

All of this is great BUT nothing like being able to actually examine your patients is there? You can see how gait analysis can tell us many things, but they need to be confirmed by a physical exam.

The Gait Guys. Educating (and hopefully enlightening) with each post. Keep your eyes open and your thinking from the ground up : )

Subtle clues often provide the answers.

We like yoga as much as anyone else. We saw this picture on the latest cover and couldn’t resist making a few comments on this pose.

Yoga has many benefits. Our understanding is that in addition to the cognitive and spiritual effects of yoga, is that it helps to build your core.

 At first look you may say that this woman has a few issues:

  • she has a right pelvic shift and a left body lean
  • She has slight head rotation to the right and a slight left head tilt
  • you may have noticed that she appears to have more tone in the musculature on the right side of her face than on the left.   Just look at the nasolabial fold as well as the corner of her mouth any area of wrinkling underneath her left orbit.
  •  You may have also noticed the subtle flexion and lack of external rotation of the right hip.

 You may go on and think that she has a week right gluteus medius as well as an overactive quadratus lumborum on the left-hand side which may be causing the pelvic shift. The head tilt may be in compensation for the right side gluteus medius weakness and the subtle rotation may be an attempt to engage a tonic neck response. ( a tonic neck response is  ipsilateral extension of the upper and lower extremity to the side of head rotation with contralateral flexion of the same counterparts.

 You may have also noticed that the toes of the right foot are not dorsiflexed and that her hair appears to be flowing on the right side, and this is not the case at all, but rather she is either standing on a sloped surface or on the downward phase of a jump. According to the magazine it is the latter.  If you caught this at first then congratulations: you are sharper than most. If not remember to always look for subtle clues.

 Like Sir Topham Hat says in Thomas the Train: “  You didn’t get the whole story. What really happened is what really matters.

So why the mild facial ptosis on the left side? She could have had an old Bells palsy, or other form of facial paresis. Note that mostly the lower portions of the (left) face are affected (ie, below the eye). We remember that the upper portions of the face receive bilateral innervation but lower portions of the face unilateral innervation, from the contra lateral facial motor nucleus; this is why it could be a mild upper motor neuron lesion (micro infact, lack of cortical afferent input) and not an lower motor neuron lesion (like Bells Palsy). Why is this germane? Or is it not?

Stand in front of a mirror. Jump up in the air trying to assume the same pose as this woman does and what do you see.  Make sure that you jump up from both legs and then bring one leg over and your hands in front of you in the “praying position”. You may want to have a friend take a snapshot of you performing this. You will notice that you have contralateral head rotation,  a pelvic hike on the side opposite the leg that’s extended and a head tilt to the side that is flexed.  You are attempting to stabilize your core as you’re going up and coming down.

What we are witnessing is a normal neurological phenomena.  This gal merely seems to have some limited external rotation of her left hip. Now perform the same maneuver again but this time don’t externally rotate your leg as far as this woman does and what do you see. You should’ve seen an increase in the aforementioned body postures.

Subtle clues are often the key. Keep your eyes and ears open. 

The Gait Guys. Helping the subtle to become everyday for you, with each and every post.