The gluteus medius muscle works to abduct and rotate the hip but also functions to dynamically stabilize the leg and pelvis. Glute medius weakness can contribute to dysfunction and pain not only in the hip but in the lower back, knee and ankle as well. Furthermore, it is common due to lifestyle and movement patterns that this muscle becomes weak.
While there are many exercises used to strengthen the glute medius, one of the most basic is also one of the most effective. Simple hip abduction in a side lying position has been shown to engage a high percentage of the muscles fibers in EMG studies.
To properly perform this exercise, start by lying on your side without rolling too much forward or backward. Keeping the top leg straight at the hip and the knee, simply raise the leg up towards the ceiling. Be sure to keep the foot facing forward, do not let the hip rotate either direction and keep the hip in a straight line with the rest of the body.
Move slowly and with intention and do not raise the leg too high. Your hip should only abduct to about 45 degrees at the most. Make sure to breathe regularly. If done consistently, this exercise will keep the glute medius strong and healthy and keep you functioning optimally.