Thursday, October 10, 2019

Clam Shell Exercises?

Clam shell exercises?
My patient came in complaining of knee pain after running. She had seen another physiotherapist who after treating her knee, prescribed clam shell exercises for her to do as well. But she still had knee pain after running and climbing stairs despite doing them regularly.

How many of you have been asked to do clam shell exercises to make your Gluteus Medius (or hip) muscles stronger? If you have, maybe you need not bother any more.

Latest research (Moore et al, 2019) shows that clam shell exercises do not activate your Gluteus Medius as much as you think.
Right Gluteus Medius muscle
The Gluteus Medius muscle is very important for female runners, especially if they have knee pain. You can treat their knees but their pain will not go away until you have addressed the weakness  in their Gluteus Medius muscle.
View from the back, Left Gluteus Medius
In that small study, three sets of six common lower limb exercises were performed by ten healthy adults after a short warm up. They did single leg squats, single leg bridging, hip abduction (lifting) in side lying, clam shell exercise in side lying, running man exercise (simulates running motion of running one leg at a time) and resisted hip abduction-extension exercise.

The participants had electromyography or EMG electrodes to measure muscle activity attached to all three parts of the Gluteus Medius muscle (in front, middle and posterior).

Results showed that clam shell exercises were not effective in activating any part of the Gluteus Medius muscle. Highest levels of overall activity were seen in the single leg squat, single leg bridging and the resisted hip abuction-extension exercise.

Other than the knee, you need to know that weakness in your Gluteus Medius can also contribute to pain or problems in your Achilles. Make sure you are doing the strengthening correctly.


Moore D, Pizzari T et al (2019). Rehabiliation Exercises For The Gluteus Medius Muscle Segments: An Electromyography Study. J Sp Rehab. DOI: 10.1123/jsr.2018-0340.

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