Yoga Pose: Side Plank
How can you improve your balance in yoga and prevent injuries?
Gluteus medius (GM) is the answer and it is a busy muscle as it is responsible for keeping your pelvis balanced as you walk. Each time that you go into a one-leg stance in walking, which is more than half of the gait cycle, GM is there to stabilize your pelvis and prevent the hip from dropping to the opposite side.
There are numerous issues that can arise when there is an inability to maintain proper alignment of the pelvis and femur due to a weak GM, Runner's Knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is one example. Some other related issues are tibial stress fracture, low back pain and iliotibial band friction syndrome.
Besides being a crucial part in preventing injury GM is also one of the main stabilizers in one legged balancing poses, like tree pose in yoga.
I’m a fan of exercises that address both the existing issue as well as strengthen the surrounding muscles. Side plank with abduction of the leg is just such an exercise. And, according to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, it also is the most effective exercise for targeting the GM.