My go to exercise of the week to help knee, hip and back pain is the side plank!:
The side plank is evidenced to be the best way to activate the gluteus medius muscle in the hip. These muscles are on the side of the hip and their importance is often forgotten in the prevention and treatment of many different types/ areas of pain. They primarily stabilise and abduct the hip but are also important in also preventing knee, hip, lower back and in some cases even shoulder pain when done in a certain way. There are many variations of the side plank, from static to dynamic. Your physiotherapist can help to identify which one is most appropriate depending on your site or severity and strength.
When the hip stabilisers get weak, this can cause irritation of many of the structures not only surrounding the hip.
The gluteus medius muscle protects many structures, and this one simple exercise can help to:
Reduce lateral tightness in the quads which can help with patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee)
Protects the bursa that sits on top of the greater trochanter (a shock absorber that allows muscles to glide over the hip bone). This can help to prevent trochanteric bursitis, a painful condition that can affect sleep and mobility.
Improve lower back pain as the side plank also activates a set of stabilising muscles called your trans-abdominals and obliques which provide your lower back with support and protection.
Improved shoulder pain and stability when done in a controlled way
Prevent and treat gluteal tendinopathy which is a condition in which the large gluteal tendon begins to break down and weaken, affecting mobility and in some cases causing weakness and pain.
Prevent and treat injuries to the menisci (knee cartilage) as it helps reduce the torsional forces travelling through the knee when walking and running.
Helps to treat piriformis pain which is a muscle that can easily tighten up deep in the buttocks giving muscular and occasionally sciatic pain (nerve pain down the back of the leg).
Help prevent Iliotibial Band (ITB) syndrome, pain and/or tightness by improving the proximal control (hip stability) and reducing the tension travelling through the ITB structure down to the knee.
Improve your stability when running and help prevent injuries.
Ask your physiotherapist today which level of plank is most appropriate for you. You should always seek professional advice before starting an exercise when recovering from pain or injury, or starting exercise for the first time.