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Can local muscles augment stability in the hip? A narrative literature review.

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  • 1Melbourne Physiotherapy School, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


Hip pain and dysfunction are increasingly recognised as important causes of morbidity in younger and older adults. Pathology compromising the passive stability of the hip joint, including acetabular labral injury, may lead to increased femoral head translation, greater joint contact pressures and ultimately degenerative hip disease. Activation of hip muscles may play an important role in augmenting the stability in the normal and the passively unstable hip. Research at other joints suggests that the local, rather than global, muscles are well suited to provide subtle joint compression, limiting translation, with minimal metabolic cost. Based on the known characteristics of local muscles and the limited research available on hip muscles, it is proposed that the local hip muscles; quadratus femoris, gluteus minimus, gemelli, obturator internus and externus, iliocapsularis and the deep fibres of iliopsoas, may be primary stabilisers of the hip joint. Interventions aimed at restoring isolated neuromuscular function of the primary hip stabilisers may be considered when treating people with passive hip instability prior to commencing global muscle rehabilitation. Finally, further research is needed to investigate the potential association between function of the hip muscles (including muscles likely to have a role in stabilising the hip) and hip pathology affecting hip stability such as acetabular labral lesions.

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