The gluteus minimus is the deepest of the three gluteal muscles. It provides assistance in flexing and medially rotating the hip. In other words, it bends your hip forward and rotates it inward. If the gluteus minimus has been strained, some of its fibers have been damaged and you will experience pain with hip movement. Strains are normally caused by too much activity, too fast. Stretching exercises will relax the damaged tissue and facilitate proper healing, getting you back to your regular activities.
Muscle Strains and Stretching
Muscle strains are typically categorized into three grades in order to identify the severity. Grade one refers to the lowest level of injury and grade three refers to a full rupture. Strains often result in muscle spasm, in which the muscle will contract on its own to protect itself from further damage. Muscle spasms cause significant pain and can impair your movement. Slow and controlled stretching will reduce the spasm, reduce the pain and allow the fibers to heal.
Stretching with Ice
To stretch the gluteus minimus, the muscle must be put into the opposite position of its function. Therefore, you will want to laterally rotate the hip to target the minimus. Sit comfortably on the floor or a mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Touch the soles of your feet together while bending your knees and drawing your feet toward your pelvis. Place your hands on the floor behind your buttocks for support. Allow your knees to gently drop outward, toward the floor. Relax in this position. Apply a bag of crushed iced to the gluteal area for 15 to 20 minutes in order to reduce pain and spasm while stretching. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds at a time, straightening your knees and sitting up to take a break.
Passive stretching refers to the movement of your joint through its range of motion without your involvement. For example, a partner, therapist or other external force can help you move your hip into a stretched position without you contracting any muscles. If your gluteus minimus strain is severe enough, passive stretching will allow you to regain flexibility and range of motion without inducing more muscle spasm. To practice a passive stretch, lie on your stomach on a mat. Bend your right knee to 90 degrees and have a partner lift your right knee off the table to extend your hip. To add lateral rotation, have him gently push the ankle toward your left knee. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat three to five times.
Active stretching refers to a stretch that is facilitated by your opposing muscles contracting. In other words, there is not external force that creates the stretch, you do. To actively stretch out your gluteus minimus, begin with a lunge stretch, or kneeling hip-flexor stretch. Stand upright and take a large step forward with your right foot. Lower your left knee down toward the ground and rest it there. Lean forward to extend your left hip joint. Hold this position for 30 seconds. To add a lateral rotation stretch, allow your heel to fall inward, toward your right side. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three to five times on each leg.
- Trail Guide to the Body; Andrew Biel, LMP
- Rehabilitation Techniques for Sports Medicine and Athletic Training; William E. Prentice, Ph.D.
- Physical Rehabilitation of the Injured Athlete; James R. Andrews et al.
- American Council on Exercise: Kneeling Hip-Flexor Stretch
Erika McAuley is a freelance writer from Abbotsford, British Columbia. As an exercise rehabilitation professional, she has been preventing and treating musculoskeletal injuries in athletes and civil workers since 2008. McAuley holds a Bachelor of Human Kinetics in athletic therapy from Trinity Western University and an Advanced Certificate in Athletic Therapy from Mount Royal University.