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Unveiling the Power of MSR in Releasing Restrictions in the Gluteus Maximus and Medius muscles

Updated: Dec 4, 2023


In the broad sphere of musculoskeletal (MSK) medicine, the Gluteus Maximus and Medius muscles are central to athletic performance, walking, stability, and injury prevention. They are more than just anatomical structures; they are functional pillars influencing a wide range of movements and activities.


This article aims to introduce Motion Specific Release (MSR) techniques tailored for the Gluteus Maximus and Medius, offering a lens through which to understand and treat restrictions in these key muscles. Alongside, the article will guide through the anatomy and biomechanics of these muscles, supported by recommendations for effective mobility and strengthening exercises. Bridging scientific rigor with practical utility, this article aims to serve both the MSK community and those interested in holistic health.


Article Index


Anatomical Structures

Motion Specific Release

Exercises

Conclusion & References

 

Anatomy and Biomechanics



Gluteus Maximus


The Gluteus Maximus is a biarticular muscle acting as the primary hip extensor and an auxiliary knee extensor via the iliotibial tract. As a versatile force generator, it plays pivotal roles in kinetic chains involving locomotion, weight transfer, and torque generation.


  • General Function: Involved in hip extension, external rotation, and abduction. Biomechanically, it generates force vectors contributing to sagittal, coronal, and transverse plane movements.

  • Origin: Originates from the posterior gluteal line of the ilium, the dorsal surface of the sacrum and coccyx, and the sacrotuberous ligament, providing a broad attachment footprint for optimal force exertion.

  • Insertion: Inserts into the gluteal tuberosity of the femur and the iliotibial band, creating a complex line of pull that allows for multi-planar hip movements.

  • Innervation: Primarily innervated by the inferior gluteal nerve (L5-S2).

  • Clinical Significance: It is a key player in triple extension, vital for explosive activities and crucial in eccentric control during the gait cycle's stance phase.

  • Visual Cues of Dysfunction: Limited stride length, asymmetric pelvic tilting, and decreased ability in forceful hip extension tasks can signify dysfunction.


Gluteus Medius

Gluteus Medius


The Gluteus Medius is a primary hip abductor and pelvic stabilizer. It's integral to frontal plane stability and operates as a dynamic stabilizer during single-limb support phases of locomotion.


  • General Function: Serves as a primary hip abductor while offering medial and lateral rotation depending on the position of the hip. Also acts as a pelvic stabilizer during dynamic movements.

  • Origin: The muscle originates from the external surface of the ilium, specifically between the anterior and posterior gluteal lines, offering a fulcrum for frontal plane movements.

  • Insertion: Inserts into the lateral surface of the greater trochanter of the femur, optimizing the lever arm for hip abduction.

  • Innervation: Supplied by the superior gluteal nerve (L4-S1).

  • Clinical Significance: Its dysfunction is often implicated in lumbo-pelvic-hip complex instability, contributing to pathomechanics such as anterior pelvic tilt and Trendelenburg gait.

  • Visual Cues of Dysfunction: Evident as a lateral pelvic drop during single-leg stance or walking, often indicative of compromised frontal plane stability.


 

Gluteus Maximus Release (MSR) Procedures


Step-by-step Instructions

These MSR procedures are demonstrated in the accompanying video.

  • Positioning: Patient in the side-lying position, involved side up.

  • Initial Setup: The Patient's knee is flexed for stability.

  • Technique: The practitioner utilizes their forearm for treatment.

  • Synchronization: Move the patient's knee rhythmically and slowly in sync with forearm treatment. Use the non-treatment hand to stabilize the patient's upper leg; keep this hand relaxed.

  • Pressure: Employ moderate compression via a combination of forearm supination and pronation.

  • Focus Area: When the practitioner encounters a restriction, slow down and spend adequate time on it until a release is felt.

  • Advanced Maneuver: Incorporate upper leg circumduction to induce shear stress, assisting in myofascial release.

  • Fiber Orientation: The Gluteus Maximus muscle fibers are obliquely oriented, running diagonally from the sacrum, ilium, and coccyx to the femur and iliotibial band.


MSR Demonstration Video

In this video, Dr. Abelson demonstrates Motion Specific Release (MSR) procedures for releasing the Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Medius muscles.




Best Practices

  • Time Factor: Take your time with these procedures. The process of releasing myofascial restrictions cannot be rushed.

  • Circumduction Benefits: Employing circumduction in your MSR procedures offers neurophysiological advantages such as modulating nociceptive signals and fostering muscle relaxation. Furthermore, it has the added benefit of system-wide therapeutic intervention, aligning well with MSR's comprehensive treatment philosophy.

  • Kinetic Chains: Always consider the effects of a larger kinetic chain on the primary structures.

Precautions

  • Manual therapy on any structure requires careful consideration of underlying medical conditions, the patient's history, and current symptoms.

  • Precautions include avoiding therapy on inflamed or ruptured tissues, contraindicated medical conditions, and post-surgical cases without clearance.

  • Proper assessment, consent, and technique are crucial to minimize risks.


 

Gluteus Maximus Functional Kinetic Chains


Understanding kinetic chains is essential for MSK practitioners, offering a nuanced framework for precise diagnosis, effective treatment, and targeted rehabilitation through techniques like MSR. The framework includes:

  • Direct Myofascial Connections

  • Synergists

  • Stabilizers

  • Antagonists


Direct Myofascial Connections

These fibrous networks transmit force across muscles, linking them in a continuous chain. Disruptions in these connections can lead to impaired force transmission, affecting overall biomechanical efficiency. The Gluteus Maximus, a cornerstone in human movement and posture, has several direct myofascial connections that significantly influence its function and integration with other structures in the body. These connections can be categorized as follows:


  • Thoracolumbar Fascia: A strong, layered membrane that also engages with the erector spinae and latissimus dorsi.

  • Iliotibial Band (ITB): This lateral thickening of the fascia lata wraps around the thigh to the knee and serves as a connection to the tibia.

  • Sacrotuberous Ligament: Connects the sacrum to the ischial tuberosity, providing a base for the gluteus maximus to anchor to the pelvis.

  • Fascia Lata: A deep fascia layer covering the thigh, it offers a connection to the quadriceps and hamstrings.

  • Inferior Gluteal Fascia: Provides a myofascial connection between the gluteus maximus and other gluteal muscles like the gluteus medius and minimus.

Synergists

These muscles work together to facilitate specific movements, serving as the action's active agents. Synergistic dysfunction often leads to compensatory patterns, affecting the muscle group's overall performance.

  • Hamstrings (Biceps Femoris, Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus)

  • Gluteus Medius and Minimus

  • Piriformis and other external rotators

  • Adductor Magnus (posterior part)

Stabilizers

These muscles provide the foundational support during movement, ensuring efficiency and safety. Weak or inhibited stabilizers can compromise joint integrity, making movements less efficient and more prone to injury.

  • Erector Spinae

  • Quadratus Lumborum

  • Abdominal Muscles (Transverse and Oblique)

Antagonists

Working in opposition to the action, antagonists are essential for both concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. If dysfunctional, antagonists can decrease strength and create muscle imbalances, impacting the range of motion and potentially leading to injury.

  • Hip Flexors (Iliopsoas, Rectus Femoris)

  • Internal Hip Rotators (Tensor Fascia Latae, Anterior fibers of Gluteus Medius and Minimus)

  • Adductors


 

Gluteus Medius Release (MSR) Procedures



Step-by-step Instructions:

Note: These MSR procedures are demonstrated in the accompanying video.

  • Positioning: Situate the patient in a side-lying position, with the affected side facing upward.

  • Initial Setup: Flex the patient's knee to around 90 degrees to provide a stable base and minimize pelvic movement.

  • Technique: Utilize the forearm for the application of myofascial techniques, offering both breadth and depth in pressure.

  • Synchronization: Coordinate rhythmic knee movement with the forearm application, synchronizing the tempo for optimal tissue engagement. The non-treatment hand should lightly stabilize the patient's upper leg.

  • Pressure Application: Generate the therapeutic force through a combination of forearm supination and pronation, applying moderate compression without triggering pain or discomfort.

  • Focus Area: Upon identifying areas of myofascial restriction or trigger points, reduce speed and concentrate the technique, allowing time for tissue release.

  • Advanced Maneuver: Introduce upper leg circumduction to augment shear stress and facilitate the breakdown of myofascial adhesions.

  • Fiber Orientation: Be mindful that the Gluteus Medius has a multi-directional fiber arrangement. The anterior fibers assist in internal rotation and flexion, while the posterior fibers engage in external rotation and extension.



MSR Demonstration Video

In this video, Dr. Abelson demonstrates Motion Specific Release (MSR) procedures for releasing the Gluteus Maximus and Gluteus Medius muscles. The time stamp for the gluteus medius is 01:59.




Best Practices

  • Time Factor: Take your time with these procedures. The process of releasing myofascial restrictions cannot be rushed.

  • Circumduction Benefits: Employing circumduction in your MSR procedures offers neurophysiological advantages such as modulating nociceptive signals and fostering muscle relaxation. Furthermore, it has the added benefit of system-wide therapeutic intervention, aligning well with MSR's comprehensive treatment philosophy.

  • Kinetic Chains: Always consider the effects of a larger kinetic chain on the primary structures.

Precautions

  • Manual therapy on any structure requires careful consideration of underlying medical conditions, the patient's history, and current symptoms.

  • Precautions include avoiding therapy on inflamed or ruptured tissues, contraindicated medical conditions, and post-surgical cases without clearance.

  • Proper assessment, consent, and technique are crucial to minimize risks.


 


Gluteus Medius Functional Kinetic Chains


Understanding kinetic chains is essential for MSK practitioners, offering a nuanced framework for precise diagnosis, effective treatment, and targeted rehabilitation through techniques like MSR. The framework includes:

  • Direct Myofascial Connections

  • Synergists

  • Stabilizers

  • Antagonists


Direct Myofascial Connections

These fibrous networks allow force to be transmitted across muscles, linking them in a continuous chain. A disruption in these connections can lead to impaired force transmission, affecting overall biomechanical efficiency. The Gluteus Medius, has a web of direct myofascial connections that impact its function and interaction with adjacent structures. Here are some of its key direct myofascial connections:


  • Iliac Fascia: This is the fascia covering the ilium, and the gluteus medius is deeply invested in it, facilitating a strong connection to the pelvis.

  • Gluteal Aponeurosis: This is a flat, fibrous sheet that acts as an extension of the iliac fascia, and it intimately connects the gluteus medius to the gluteus minimus and maximus.

  • Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL): This muscle shares the fascia lata and contributes to the iliotibial band (ITB), linking it functionally and myofascially with the gluteus medius.

  • Iliotibial Band (ITB): Although not as directly connected as it is with the gluteus maximus, the ITB indirectly influences the gluteus medius through its shared tension line via the TFL.

  • Superior Gluteal Nerve and Vessels: Not myofascial per se, but these neurovascular elements run deep to the gluteus medius, and their fascial encasements often interact with the muscle's fascia, impacting its function.


Synergists

These muscles work together to facilitate specific movements, serving as the action's active agents. Synergistic dysfunction often leads to compensatory patterns, affecting the muscle group's overall performance.

  • Gluteus Minimus

  • Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)

  • Piriformis

  • Superior and Inferior Gemelli

  • Obturator Internus

  • Obturator Externus

Stabilizers

These muscles provide the foundational support during movement, ensuring efficiency and safety. Weak or inhibited stabilizers can compromise joint integrity, making movements less efficient and more prone to injury.

  • Quadratus Lumborum

  • Erector Spinae

  • Transverse Abdominis

  • Obliques

Antagonists

Working in opposition to the action, antagonists are essential for both concentric and eccentric muscle contractions. If dysfunctional, antagonists can decrease strength and create muscle imbalances, impacting the range of motion and potentially leading to injury.

  • Adductor Longus

  • Adductor Brevis

  • Adductor Magnus

  • Gluteus Maximus

  • Iliopsoas

  • Rectus Femoris


 


Exercises


Mobility Exercises


Mobility lays the foundation for effective muscle function in the Gluteus Maximus and Medius—two key muscles contributing to hip extension, abduction, and external rotation. Proper mobility optimizes the range of motion and sets the stage for more advanced Motion Specific Release (MSR) techniques.


Clamshells

  • Anatomical and Biomechanical Considerations: This primarily engages the Gluteus Medius and Minimus, essential for hip abduction and stability.


Hip Bridges


Scientific Rationale

  • Clamshells and hip bridges are backed by studies showing their efficacy in improving hip mobility and stability, thereby optimizing biomechanics for daily activities.



Strengthening Exercises


Squats

  • Anatomical and Biomechanical Considerations: Squats engage the Gluteus Maximus, quads, and hamstrings, requiring a balance of forces around the hip and knee joints.

Deadlifts


Lateral Leg Raises


Scientific Rationale

  • Strengthening exercises like deadlifts, squats, and lateral leg raises have been shown to improve muscle hypertrophy and neuromuscular activation patterns, resulting in better biomechanical alignment and functional capacity.


 

Conclusion


This article highlights the critical roles of the Gluteus Maximus and Medius muscles in athletic performance and injury prevention, emphasizing Motion Specific Release (MSR) techniques as effective treatment methods. By blending scientific rigor with practical guidance, the article aims to be a valuable resource for clinicians and enthusiasts in the field of musculoskeletal medicine. The focus on anatomy, biomechanics, and strengthening exercises offers a holistic, evidence-based approach for both diagnosis and treatment.


In summary, the Gluteus Maximus and Medius are key players in MSK health. MSR techniques, combined with recommended exercises, provide an interdisciplinary and scientifically supported approach to improving muscle function and biomechanical performance. This article serves as a concise, yet comprehensive guide for anyone vested in the holistic well-being of the musculoskeletal system.


 

DR. BRIAN ABELSON DC. - The Author


Dr. Abelson's approach in musculoskeletal health care reflects a deep commitment to evidence-based practices and continuous learning. In his work at Kinetic Health in Calgary, Alberta, he focuses on integrating the latest research with a compassionate understanding of each patient's unique needs. As the developer of the Motion Specific Release (MSR) Treatment Systems, he views his role as both a practitioner and an educator, dedicated to sharing knowledge and techniques that can benefit the wider healthcare community. His ongoing efforts in teaching and practice aim to contribute positively to the field of musculoskeletal health, with a constant emphasis on patient-centered care and the collective advancement of treatment methods.

 


Elevate Your Practice Through the Multifaceted Approach of Motion Specific Release (MSR)


MSR isn't just another treatment system; it's a paradigm shift in musculoskeletal care that synthesizes diverse therapeutic modalities. This well-rounded approach addresses not just symptoms but the root causes of musculoskeletal conditions, providing more enduring and effective patient outcomes.


Immerse yourself in our courses to gain a rich array of both soft-tissue and osseous techniques that can be effortlessly integrated into your existing practice. Our curriculum is designed to bridge the gap between traditional medical science and innovative, evidence-based therapeutic methods, offering a holistic lens through which to view musculoskeletal diagnosis and treatment.


From orthopedic and neurological assessments to myofascial interventions and osseous manipulations, from acupressure techniques to kinetic chain evaluations, and functional exercise plans—MSR provides an all-encompassing toolkit for musculoskeletal care. By adopting the MSR system, you'll not only enhance your practice's clinical outcomes but also become a magnet for patient referrals. Take the leap into the next era of musculoskeletal therapy with our MSR courses and memberships.


 

References


  1. Abelson, B., Abelson, K., & Mylonas, E. (2018, February). A Practitioner's Guide to Motion Specific Release, Functional, Successful, Easy to Implement Techniques for Musculoskeletal Injuries (1st edition). Rowan Tree Books.

  2. Chaitow, L., & DeLany, J. (2011). "Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques: The Lower Body" (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone.

  3. Liebenson, C. (2018). "Rehabilitation of the Spine: A Practitioner's Manual" (3rd ed.). Wolters Kluwer.

  4. Magee, D. J. (2014). "Orthopedic Physical Assessment" (6th ed.). Saunders.

  5. Myers, T. (2014). "Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists" (3rd ed.). Churchill Livingstone. [On kinetic chains]

  6. Netter, F. H. (2018). "Atlas of Human Anatomy" (7th ed.). Elsevier.

  7. Neumann, D. A. (2016). "Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System: Foundations for Rehabilitation" (3rd ed.). Mosby.

  8. Sahrmann, S. (2001). "Diagnosis and Treatment of Movement Impairment Syndromes". Mosby.

  9. Schleip, R., Findley, T. W., Chaitow, L., & Huijing, P. (2012). "Fascia: The Tensional Network of the Human Body". Elsevier.


 
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