You most likely head to the gym to sculpt your arms or to get rid of a post-pregnancy belly bulge. Slim and sexy abductors are usually not a mom's, or any exerciser's, number-one goal. The hip abductors play an essential functional role in most of the exercise and daily activity you do, however. The standing hip abduction is one of the best ways to train these abductor muscles to keep your lower body strong, injury free and functioning properly.
Standing hip abduction exercises strengthen the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles, the two smaller muscles that, together with the large and familiar gluteus maximus, make up the glute muscle complex. The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus work together to abduct your leg, or move it away from the center line of your body. These muscles also enable you to inwardly rotate the leg in the hip socket. The muscles stabilize your pelvis and keep it in proper alignment with the legs and torso.
Injury Prevention and Correction
Princeton University's publication "Athletic Medicine" points out that faulty movement patterns related to inadequate pelvic stability can lead to lower back, hip, knee and ankle problems. A weak gluteus medius is often the culprit behind illiotibial band syndrome and patella-femoral syndrome, commonly known as runner's knee. The standing hip abduction is an important part of a rehab or prevention exercise plan when an athlete presents with these issues. A study in the 2007 issue of the "Journal of Athletic Training" confirmed that strong abductors can help protect exercisers, particularly women, from knee injuries. A knee injury can keep you out of the gym and significantly compromise home duties, such as chasing after Junior, doing housework and heading to your day job.
When you strengthen the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus with the standing hip abduction exercise, you bolster your entire kinetic chain. This gives you more power in your legs for jumping and running activities. Whether your most athletic moments involve springing up out of your seat to wipe up spilled milk or break up sibling fights or you are a secret star in club sports when off-mom-duty, you'll have the hip strength and stamina to excel.
Standing hip abduction has a functional, rather than aesthetic, purpose in your workout plan. If you expect that lifting your leg out to the side using resistance bands or a cable machine will help trim saddlebags, you will be disappointed. Spot training isn't possible -- you have to lose weight all over your body to slim your hips.