Band Hip Abduction: Benefits, Muscles Worked, and More

published by: Debbie Luna
Last Updated:
January 31, 2022

The band hip abduction exercise is a lower body isolation movement primarily geared towards the training or rehabilitation of the hip abductors, of which are responsible for opening up the hips and thereby spreading the legs apart.

This particular exercise is performed either seated or standing, with the level of resistance and difficulty depending on the sort of equipment involved, the relative strength of the exerciser as well as the volume of sets and repetitions intended to be performed in succession.

Band hip abduction is an excellent exercise for training or aiding in the rehabilitation of the hip abductors, of which are located along the outer ridge of the hips and are better known as the tensor fascia lata, as well as the gluteus maximus.

What is a Hip Abduction? How is it Different from Band Hip Abduction?

By its most literal definition, the motion of hip abduction is the movement of either leg in the opposite direction of the other, essentially “abducting” the leg away from the central line of the body.

This is done through the contraction of a muscle located along the outside of the hips known as the tensor fascia lata, of which works in tandem with muscles located along the buttocks such as the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus, all muscle groups that are responsible for the motion of the legs.

band hip abudction

The term hip abduction is distinct from the exercise referred to as band hip abduction, which, while related in nature, is not quite the same thing.

Band hip abduction is an isolation exercise that makes use of a type of light weight rehabilitation and training equipment known as resistance bands, of which are generally wrapped around the legs of the exerciser so as to provide a level of tension or mechanical resistance that the exerciser must fight against by tensing their hip abductor muscles.

What are Resistance Bands?

Resistance bands are a type of lightweight athletic equipment usually used for the purposes of muscular training or physical rehabilitation by providing some level of mechanical resistance to an exerciser’s movements via the nature of its rubbery material.

The exerciser will, in most cases, place the resistance band around one or both limbs and move in an outward or abductive motion so as to stretch the band and thereby impart mechanical tension into their muscles and joints, instilling a recovery response in their soft tissue and thereby triggering muscular hypertrophy and other exercise benefits.

What Muscles are Worked by Band Assisted Hip Abduction?

Being mostly considered an isolation exercise, the band assisted hip abduction exercise primarily activates only a single muscle group, of which is the tensor fascia lata, an elongated pair of muscles located on the outer region of the hips, specifically located beneath the crest of illium wherein its distal attachment point is in fact all the way at the patellar ligament, running the length of the femur.

band hip abduction movement

The tensor fascia latae pair of muscles is primarily responsible for not only stabilizing the hips and knees during bouts of movement but also for abducting the legs towards the left or right side of the body, which one may immediately recognize as the exact movement involved during the performance of a band assisted hip abduction exercise.

By extension, the band assisted hip abduction exercise is also capable of activating both the gluteus minimus and gluteus medius heads of the gluteal muscle groups, both of which are primarily responsible for the stabilization and rotation of the femur or thigh portion of the legs, as well as the forward extension of the hips, of which is otherwise referred to as a forward sagittal movement.

How Is Band Hip Abduction Performed?

The band hip abduction exercise is performed by first finding a suitably comfortable bench or chair where the exerciser may perform their exertions, as well as selecting an appropriate difficulty of resistance band.

This is best done by choosing one of lower intensity, especially for individuals whom have yet to perform band assisted hip abductions before, as the band hip abduction exercise is primarily an isolation movement and as such places great strain on a rather small and thin muscle group all on its own, potentially increasing the risk of injury if an improper level of training intensity is induced.

Once a comfortable place to use the selected resistance band has been identified, the exerciser must hook the band around their ankles and pull it upwards until it is comfortably wrapped around their mid to upper thighs. 

seated band hip abduction

Care must be taken to ensure that the resistance band will not slip during the exercise, as the elastic tension held in this particular piece of exercise equipment can potentially cause injury if suddenly released by accident.

Once the band is firmly in place around the exerciser's legs, they may plant their feet firmly beneath them and pull their knees and thighs outwards towards their sides, ensuring that their hip joints remain firmly stabilized and that their core is tight yet relaxed so as to also stabilize their torso.

The exerciser will begin to feel a level of mechanical strain or tension along the sides of their hips and on the outer portion of their glutes, of which will signify that they are performing the exercise correctly. 

Once the exerciser’s legs are spread as far apart as is comfortable with their particular biomechanics, they must slowly allow their legs to once again return to the original position, completing a single repetition of band assisted hip abductions.

What are the Benefits of Band Hip Abduction?

Like the vast majority of resistance exercises – or exercise in general – the band hip abduction exercise imparts a wide variety of positive effects to any individuals choosing to perform them on a regular basis, with the many benefits to doing so being such things like improved athletic performance, a wider range of motion for the hip joint, or even a reduced visibility of knee valgus syndrome or what is referred to as being “knock-kneed”.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that the following benefits are best realized in an exerciser or physical rehabilitation patient when combined with other healthy practices, such as a nutritional diet as well as a suitable stretching routine.

Athletic Benefits

The most obvious benefit to performing resistance exercises like the band hip abduction are those of the athletic nature, wherein repeatedly inducing training stimuli in muscle groups like the glutes and the tensor fascia latae will yield a distinct improvement in the speed and strength of said muscle groups.

This, by extension, may translate to a general improvement in the individual’s physical capabilities, allowing them to jump higher or run faster as the muscles trained during band hip abduction become larger and capable of exerting larger amounts of force.

The athletic benefits of the band hip abduction are best maximized by first performing a lower body focused compound exercise before-hand, so as to prevent muscular imbalances from forming as well as to instill a certain level of training in the muscles as well.

Flexibility Benefits

Considering the fact that a large portion of an individual limb flexibility is controlled by the fascial tissue surrounding their muscle groups, it should be no surprise that reinforcing and rehabilitating the smaller muscle groups by use of high repetition exercises can equal a similar reinforcement of said muscle group’s flexibility, especially when combined with a proper warm up and stretching routine.

In the case of band hip abduction, this is equated to an improved range of abduction for the legs and hips, allowing the individual to spread their legs at a wider distance without chance of injury.

Hip and Knee Pain Benefits

One of the primary functions of the gluteus muscles and the tensor fascia latae is the stabilization of the lower body and the legs.

In the event that these muscle groups are not sufficiently strong enough to endure the wear and tear of day to day movements, pain may occur both around the joints near these areas as well as in the soft tissue itself, certain cases of which are dubbed patellofemoral pain syndrome or iliotibial band syndrome, depending on the particular area where the pain is felt.

Performing a proper physical rehabilitation and strengthening routine by incorporating the band hip abduction exercise alongside other resistance exercises may reduce or eliminate the presence of these painful soft tissue syndromes by reinforcing the muscle groups being overused.

Knee Valgus Rehabilitation

Knee valgus is also referred to as knock knee syndrome, wherein the legs of the patient are bent inwards, giving the appearance of said patient’s knees “knocking together” as they stand erect.

This is primarily due to an internal rotation of one side of the lower body, either caused by muscular weakness in the hips or by an imbalance in one half of said area.

The band hip abduction exercise, when performed repeatedly alongside the prescribed routine of a physical therapist, can remedy this particular deformity of posture quite well, especially if making use of progressive overload so as to ensure that both sides of the body are trained to their full capacity and as such attain an equal level of strength.

Physical Rehabilitation Benefits

Even in cases wherein physical rehabilitation is required, much like the previously mentioned patellofemoral pain syndrome or knee valgus syndrome, the usage of band hip abductions alongside other musculoskeletal reinforcing exercises and stretches can induce significant positive benefits and a certain level of compensative recovery in the patient.

This is due to a variety of biological and physical processes that occur during repetitive exercise of a suitable intensity, with such things like an uptick in human growth hormone production as well as factors like improved venous blood flow to the affected area all contributing to the recovery of whatever injury or syndrome the patient may be suffering from.

General Health Benefits

More native to the fact that band hip abductions are a resistance exercise than any particular reasoning specific to the exercise itself, a variety of general health benefits may be incurred from the repeated performance of band hip abductions alongside other healthy lifestyle choices such as the cessation of smoking and the development of a nutritious diet.

These, most notably, are that of an improved body composition ratio, which will improve general endocrinological function as well as the function of other vital organ systems such as the circulatory system and the immune system.

Even the brain, to some extent, will receive a level of benefit from the repeated performance of resistance exercises like band hip abductions, with some evidence pointing towards a reduced incidence of cognitive decline in physically active members of the elderly population.

Who Can Perform Band Hip Abductions?

Being a rather accessible and easy to perform isolation exercise, band assisted hip abductions may be performed by practically any healthy individual who possesses a resistance band as well as the time and energy to improve their physical health.

However, individuals with a history of knee or hip injuries, certain soft tissue disorders or neurological disorders, as well as members of the population at an extremely young or elderly age should all first consult a licensed medical professional prior to performing band hip abductions of any intensity.

References

1. Macadam P, Cronin J, Contreras B. AN EXAMINATION OF THE GLUTEAL MUSCLE ACTIVITY ASSOCIATED WITH DYNAMIC HIP ABDUCTION AND HIP EXTERNAL ROTATION EXERCISE: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2015;10(5):573-591.

2. Lewis CL, Foley HD, Lee TS, Berry JW. Hip-Muscle Activity in Men and Women During Resisted Side Stepping With Different Band Positions. J Athl Train. 2018;53(11):1071-1081. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-46-16

3. Lee, D. (1989). The pelvic girdle. New York: Churchill Livingstone.

4. Fulkerson JP: Disorders of the patellofemoral joint. 1997, Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 3

5. Arab, A.M., Nourbakhsh, M.R. The relationship between hip abductor muscle strength and iliotibial band tightness in individuals with low back pain . Chiropr Man Therap 18, 1 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1746-1340-18-1

Debbie (Deb) started powerlifting and Olympic lifting in High School as part of her track team's programming; She continues to train in order to remain athletic. Inspire US allows Deb to share information related to training, lifting, biomechanics, and more.
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