Research Review: Prevalence of Gluteus Medius Weakness in People with Chronic Low Back Pain Compared to Healthy Controls


Edited by Amy Martinez DPT, PT

and Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, COMT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

Original Citation: Cooper, N. A., Scavo, K. M., Strickland, K. J., Tipayamongkol, N., Nicholson, J. D., Bewyer, D. C., & Sluka, K. A. (2016). Prevalence of gluteus medius weakness in people with chronic low back pain compared to healthy controls. European Spine Journal, 25(4), 1258-1265. - ARTICLE


Low back pain (LBP) is the leading cause of disability worldwide (1). A growing body of research is demonstrating a correlation between myofascial pain, myofascial trigger points, weakness and altered recruitment patterns of the hip abductor musculature and LBP (2-10). This 2015 study by U.S. researchers demonstrates that chronic non-specific LBP was most strongly correlated with ipsilateral gluteus medius weakness and gluteal tenderness, and also correlated with ipsilateral erector and trochantric tenderness and greater strength of the contralateral tensor fascia latae. Human movement professionals working with individuals with LBP should consider assessing these issues and addressing any noted impairments as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Karl Sterling, BI Presenter prepping to teach Gluteus Madius Activation Karl Sterling, BI Presenter prepping to teach Gluteus Medius Activation

Study Summary

Study DesignCase-control Study
Level of EvidenceIIB Evidence from at least one other type of quasi-experimental study
Participant Characteristics

Chronic Low Back Pain (LBP) Study Group


  • Age: 41.4 +/- 13 years
  • Gender: 64.7% female
  • Characteristics:

    • Height: 169.4 +/- 11.4 cm
    • Weight: 84.9 +/- 22.2 kg
    • BMI: 29.6 +/- 7.2 kg/m²

  • Number of participants: 150
  • Individuals with chronic non-specific LBP

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Non-specific LBP (pain anywhere from the inferior rib margin to the gluteal fold) for greater than 3 months

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Diagnosed etiology of LBP such as: radiculopathy, neurogenic