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Hip abduction is any movement of the hip in which the leg moves away from the body on the same plane as the rest of the body. For instance, when performing jumping jacks, the spreading of the legs is a form of hip abduction. Hip abduction exercises are very important to a lot of athletes, because abduction is important to any sports that involve lateral movement. The gluteus medius is the primary muscle responsible for hip abduction, so hip abduction exercises will target this muscle.
There are a number of ways to perform hip abductions. One way is to use a hip abduction machine. These machines have a padded seat and back support that is set at a slight angle, and they usually have some kind of hand grips for stability. The athlete places his or her legs into attachments that have pads that will rest against the outside of the knee. Some of these machines will hold the leg straight, and others will require the athlete to bend the knees.
Once the athlete is secure in the machine, he or she moves the legs apart. This will require pressing against the pads on the side of the knee. Using a system of chords and pulleys, these pads are attached to weights and provide the resistance that makes the exercise beneficial. The benefit of these machines is that they ensure proper form and help to isolate the gluteus medius.
Another way to perform hip abductions is to use an elastic band. To perform this exercise, the athlete attaches the band to something that is fixed and won't move as a result of tension on the band. Then, the athlete places the foot that is farthest from the attached end of the band into a loop at the end of the band. Keeping the other foot stable on the ground, and using the arms to hold something stable, such as a door frame or piece of exercise equipment, the athlete then moves the free leg away from the body. The tension in the band will cause the necessary resistance.
One final way of performing hip abduction exercises is for the athlete to lie on his or her side with either a padded tube or a rolled up towel between the legs. Keeping the legs straight, the athlete then raises the upper leg into the air slowly and with control. He or she then lowers it again and can repeat this process as many times as he or she desires. It is important to lie on the other side and repeat the same exercise with the other leg. This form of hip abduction exercise uses gravity to provide resistance and thus doesn't provide as intense of a workout as the other methods, but it requires less equipment.
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