The influence of varying hip angle and pelvis position on muscle recruitment patterns of the hip abductor muscles during the clam exercise

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2013 May;43(5):325-31. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2013.4004. Epub 2013 Mar 13.


Study design: Within-subject, repeated-measures design.

Objectives: To determine the influence of pelvis position and hip angle on activation of the hip abductors while performing the clam exercise.

Background: Therapeutic exercises are regularly employed to strengthen the hip abductors to improve lower-limb and pelvis stability. While previous studies primarily have compared the activity of hip abductor muscles between various exercises, few studies have examined the influence of varying the techniques of particular exercises on the relative activation of hip abductor muscles. Such information could be used to facilitate appropriate exercise instruction.

Methods: Muscle activation in 17 healthy, asymptomatic volunteers during 6 variations of the clam exercise was analyzed with surface electromyography. Electromyographic signals were recorded from the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and tensor fasciae latae. Normalized data were examined using 2-way, repeated-measures analyses of variance.

Results: The magnitude of gluteus maximus and gluteus medius activation was significantly greater when the pelvis was in neutral rather than reclined. Furthermore, gluteus medius activation was greatest when the hip was flexed to 60°. Activation of the tensor fasciae latae was not influenced by pelvis position or hip angle.

Conclusion: A neutral pelvis position is advocated to optimize recruitment of the gluteus maximus and gluteus medius during the clam exercise. Increasing the hip flexion angle increases activation of the gluteus medius. Tensor fasciae latae activity was relatively low and generally unaffected by variations of the clam exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Hip Joint / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Young Adult