Top Exercises for Gluteus Medius Tears

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on March 02, 2023
3 min read

Gluteus medius tears are also known as tears of the hip rotator cuff. The gluteus medius muscle helps connect your thighbone and your pelvis on the outside of your hips. This is an important joint for walking, sitting, and standing, and a tear can make it difficult or impossible to walk without a limp. However, there are a number of exercises that can help you recover from a gluteus medius tear.

Exercises for rehabilitating gluteus medius tears have three main purposes: to improve strength, flexibility, and control over the muscle. The goal is for the joint to have similar or identical function to its state before the tear occurred. 

Rehabilitating the muscle after a gluteus medius tear must be done carefully. Injuries like muscle tears can easily be aggravated, especially if the injury was bad enough to require surgery. Most exercises for gluteus medius tears are gentle, simple motions to help prevent making the injury worse. 

1. Hip Passive Range of Motion Movements

Your passive range of motion is the amount your joint can move when someone else is manipulating your limb. Passive range of motion exercises involve you staying still and relaxing your hip joint while a trained physical therapist gently moves your leg and hip joint for you. They will generally have you lie flat on your back and then gently lift your leg to flex your hip joint in a number of directions. The movement should be pain-free.

2. Supine Bridge 

Supine bridges help stretch the hip joints and improve flexibility. Your physician will let you know when it is safe to begin these exercises.

Step 1: Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat and hip-width apart.  

Step 2: Gently tighten abdominal and gluteus muscles to raise the pelvis off the ground.

Step 3: Hold the position for several seconds, then slowly release back towards the ground.  

Repeat eight to ten times once a day.

3. Single-Leg Bridge

Once the supine bridge is comfortable, you can move on to the single-leg bridge for a more intense exercise.

Step 1: Lie flat on the floor with your knees bent and your heels close to your gluteus.

Step 2: Raise the leg that does not have the gluteus medius tear in the air.

Step 3: Use your leg that’s still on the ground to slowly push your pelvis into the air. The goal is to reach a stable position with just one leg as support. 

Step 4: Hold the position for several seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down. 

Repeat this exercise eight to ten times daily.

4. Standing on One Leg

Standing on one leg can help you train your injured gluteus medius. It prevents your other leg from compensating for any weakness in the torn muscle. 

Step 1: Stand near an object that you can use to stabilize yourself, such as a sturdy table or a counter.

Step 2: With one hand placed on the counter for balance, slowly lift the leg on your uninjured side off the ground a few inches.

Step 3: Hold this position for several seconds, then return your foot to the ground.

Repeat this exercise three to five times daily. As your gluteus medius feels stronger, you can begin to hold the position longer and raise your foot further off the ground. 

5. Riding Bikes

Bike riding, especially stationary bike riding, is a low-impact way to strengthen a number of muscles, including your gluteus medius. As your muscle recovers, you can begin to slowly add stationary biking to your daily routine. Your physical therapist will likely recommend that you only ride for a few minutes a day at first, with low resistance. As you recover, you will be able to bike longer and with higher resistance. 

Gluteus medius tears can be serious injuries requiring surgery for recovery. If you have a gluteus medius tear, always consult with your medical team before beginning any exercise. Trying to do any exercise before your injury has begin to heal can make it worse, even after surgery. If you feel any sharp pain while doing any gluteus medius exercise, stop immediately and contact your physician if it doesn’t go away or gets worse.