Strengthen these glute muscles

Weakness here can cause injury.

If your knees cave in when you squat or run, your gluteus medius muscles might be weak.

In fact, many athletes lack strength in this part of the glute, which can lead to problems in the low back, hips, knees, and ankles, says Michael Olzinski, a Precision Run coach at Equinox locations in San Francisco.
When you neglect this muscle, which attaches to the leg at the top of the femur near the hip joint, it shortens and loses elasticity, Olzinski says. In daily life, this leaves you vulnerable to injury when you’re forced to change direction without notice. “Some of the worst injuries I see in athletes with poor glute function are from silly things, like tripping off a curb, hopping over a rock, or moving sideways quickly to avoid someone,” he says.

Popular hip exercises like squats, step-ups, and deadlifts strengthen the gluteus maximus, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors—not the gluteus medius. The right way to activate this muscle is through lateral and rotational moves.
Strengthen your gluteus medius with curtsy lunges, banded squats and lateral walks, and side planks with leg raises, Olzinski says. Your risk of injury will drop and you’ll have better form in everything from running to squatting.

Photo: Bersa / Art Partner Licensing