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J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2015 Sep;45(9):675-82. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2015.5888. Epub 2015 Jul 10.

Resisted Side Stepping: The Effect of Posture on Hip Abductor Muscle Activation.

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Physical Therapist Assistant Program, Northland Community and Technical College, East Grand Forks, MN.



Controlled laboratory study, repeated-measures design.


To compare hip abductor muscle activity and hip and knee joint kinematics in the moving limb to the stance limb during resisted side stepping, and to determine whether muscle activity was affected by the posture (upright standing versus squat) used to perform the exercise.


Hip abductor weakness has been associated with a variety of lower extremity injuries. Resisted side stepping is often used as an exercise to increase strength and endurance of the hip abductors. Exercise prescription would benefit from knowing the relative muscle activity level generated in each limb and for different postures during the side-stepping exercise.


Twenty-four healthy adults participated in this study. Kinematics and surface electromyographic data from the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and tensor fascia lata were collected as participants performed side stepping with a resistive band around the ankle, while maintaining each of 2 postures: (1) upright standing and (2) squat.


Mean normalized electromyographic signal amplitude of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and tensor fascia lata was higher in the stance limb than in the moving limb (P≤.001). Gluteal muscle activity was higher, whereas tensor fascia lata muscle activity was lower, in the squat posture compared to the upright standing posture (P<.001). Hip abduction excursion was greater in the stance limb than in the moving limb (P<.001).


The 3 hip abductor muscles respond differently to the posture variations of the side-stepping exercise in healthy individuals. When prescribing resisted side-stepping exercises, therapists should consider the differences in hip abductor activation across limbs and variations in trunk posture.


electromyography; gluteus maximus; gluteus medius; strengthening; tensor fascia lata

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