Knee pain? Back pain? The hip abduction muscles may contribute to such issues. The hip abduction muscles include the tensor fasciae latae, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius. They help move the legs away from the body. We use them to walk, stand or rotate our legs too. It’s necessary to work these muscles for a strong backside. These muscles help alleviate knee and lower back pain too.
Everyone has observed hip abduction machines at their gym. These machines promise well developed hip abduction muscles. The question is, “Do they work?’’. Hence, this article will explain the advantages and disadvantages of this machine.
Lastly, alternative exercises will be provided. These exercises are safer than the hip abduction machine. They also improve health and overall strength!
Advantages of Hip Abduction Machines:
Before we begin, let’s look at a hip abduction machine. A hip abduction machine utilizes two pads and a seat. You sit on the seat and keep the pads on the outer side of your thighs.
To use the machine, you push the pads outwards with your thighs. Increase the weight on the machine to increase resistance.
1. Isolate and Strengthen:
This machine could help if one suffers from weakness in these muscles. The hip abduction machine isolates these muscles for training. By isolating these muscles, we can train them specifically. Doing so will help strengthen these muscles.
It will also improve core stability and flexibility. This will help alleviate knee, lower back, or hip pain too.
Disadvantages of Hip Abduction Machines:
1. Lack of Real-Life Functionality:
While this machine helps train our hip abduction muscles, it has a major drawback. The drawback is the lack of real-life functionality of this exercise.
We won’t be performing this movement in daily life or even sports. So, it does not provide any improvement in these scenarios. Therefore, one would benefit with exercises that mimic these real-life movements.
2. Spinal Problems:
The hip abduction muscles are small. They are not like our quadriceps or hamstrings. This alone limits the weight it can bear on the machine. This could affect the spine if it’s loaded more than required.
If this happens, the chances of spinal injuries increase. This could lead to lifelong spinal problems.
3. IT-Band Issues:
The hip abduction machine can severely tighten the IT Band. The IT Band connects from the hips to the knees and shinbones. It helps to rotate, extend, and abduct the hips.
If this IT Band gets tightened, it can limit flexibility and mobility.
Alternate Safer Exercises for Hip-Abduction Muscles:
One thing is obvious. The disadvantages of this machine outweigh the advantages. It is not beneficial to be included in anyone’s routine.
This does not mean the options available for training these muscles are limited. There are plenty which are safer and mimic real-life functionality. In fact, performing these exercises could improve one’s health.
This exercise does not require any introduction. The squat is the king of all exercises for a reason. The squat is a compound movement. This means it involves more than one muscle while performed. In this case, it works the entire lower body. This includes the hip abduction muscles too.
To perform the exercise, stand with the feet a little wider than hip level. Point the toes a bit outward. Extend the hands in front and keep them parallel to the ground. Keep the core tight, and bend at the knees. Do this while pushing the glutes out as the knees bend.
Ensure the knees are in line with the feet. Squat until the hips are parallel to the ground. Push upwards with the heels to reach the starting position.
2. Bulgarian Split-Squats:
The Bulgarian split-squat is like a single leg squat. This exercise can be performed without equipment. All you need is a bench or chair for the exercise. This exercise targets one leg at a time. Therefore, it requires balance and forces the hip abduction muscles to stabilize the body.
To perform the exercise, stand in front of a chair or bench. Ensure the chair is roughly two feet behind. Keep the chest out, shoulders back and the core engaged. Also keep the feet hip-distance apart. Lift the right foot and place it behind on the bench. Do this by placing the top of the foot resting on the bench. Doing this will keep the ankle joint in alignment with the bench.
After following the steps above, bend the left knee and lower the body. Do this while keeping the chest out. Ensure that the left knee is aligned with the foot. Do this while balancing with the right leg on the bench. Bend the left knee till its parallel to the ground. Then push upwards with the heel to starting position.
3. Alternating Walking Lunge:
This exercise is like a normal lunge, except you’re walking. This is repeated for several reps. This exercise helps strengthen the core, glutes as well as the hip abduction muscles.
To perform the exercise, stand with the feet at shoulder-width. Step forward with the left leg, while balancing the weight on the heel. Then bend the left knee until the thigh is parallel to the floor. This completes the lunge position. Now push up with the left knee and place the right leg in front. Repeat the lunge with the right leg. Do this with both legs for several reps to complete the set.
The next two exercises are simple. They are less strenuous than the previous exercises. However, they offer the same positive results.
4. 1-Legged Hip Thrust:
This targets the hip muscles like no other exercise. It will also help relieve lower back pain.
To perform the exercise, simply lie on the back. After this, bend the knees. Keep the arms by your side and palms faced downwards. Lift one leg straight into the air. After this, push upwards with the foot on the ground. Thrust the hips upwards by squeezing the glutes.
Slowly lower yourself to complete one rep. Repeat with the other leg to complete the exercise.
5. Lying Hip Abductions:
This exercise greatly improves hip and knee pain. To perform the exercise, lie down on the side. Support the body with the forearms. Do this while keeping the legs out straight.
Raise the top leg as high as possible. Do this by squeezing the glutes. Pause at the top of the movement. Slowly lower the leg down to complete the repetition. Do this with the other leg as well. This will complete the exercise.
To summarize, the hip abduction machine is not a safe machine. It can be used sparingly. However, one will benefit more through the exercises mentioned above.
So, swap the hip abduction machine for these exercises. One will experience amazing muscular and health benefits with utmost safety!