A study showed that clamshell exercise is among the best to strengthen the lower pelvic region. In addition, it helps strengthen the hips and helps with the treatment and prevention of injury. Also, experts use clamshell exercise and physical therapy to help with sciatica and back pain—the clamshell exercise aids in reducing pain through the core and lower back strengthening.
Over many years, many workouts have become available that target the glutes and tone the lower half. Various muscles make up your posterior. These muscles have to work together to build tone and body strength.
Steps to Perform the Clamshell Exercise
Some steps are using which you can perform the clamshell exercise. These are:
- Lie over your side. Stack your legs and bend your knees at an angle of 45 degrees.
- Rest the head on the lower arm. Use the top arm to stabilize your frame. Make sure that you stacked the bones of your hips on top of each other. Ultimately, the top hip will not rock backward.
- Engage your abs muscles as you pull in your belly button. This will help to stabilize your pelvis and spine.
- Raise your upper knee as high as you can do. Don’t shift your pelvis or hips. Make sure that your feet keep touching. Don’t move the lower leg from the ground.
- Take a pause and return your upper leg towards the initial position. Perform 20 reps on both sides.
Muscles the Clamshell Exercise Works
The three major muscles of your hips include gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, and gluteus medius. The gluteus maximus is the biggest among the three hip muscles. Therefore, it gets the most significance. However, the other two muscles are also of equal importance. If these muscles get weak, then the other muscles will have to overcompensate. Ultimately, it results in the area’s injury.
The clamshell exercise is beneficial for strengthening the gluteus medius. It is the muscle that lays towards the outer side of the buttocks. That makes it responsible for giving steadiness to your pelvis.
Physical Skill the Clamshell Exercise Improves
Hip strengthening exercises like clamshell exercises are helpful for runners or people playing any sports in which running is essential. Some examples of such sports include tennis and soccer. Runners can benefit from this exercise, as they are likely to get injuries from weak hips. Most runners do not consider that most foot, knee, and ankle pains originate in the hips.
Also, inadequate stabilization of the hips may be the underlying cause behind a lot of running injuries. Therefore, clamshell exercise and other hip-strengthening exercises help to create a balance. This balance is vital for the pelvic floor, thighs, and hips. In addition, the activity feels great on tight hips.
Incorrect Ways to Perform the Clamshell Exercise
It is pretty usual to do clamshell exercises in an incorrect form. To strengthen the hips, you need to follow the right directions to gain the best benefits from this exercise. Avoid the following things when you are performing this exercise.
- Don’t roll your back–When your hip is moving, avoid rolling your back or trunk. Doing this can cause an injury to your core. Also, you might feel the tension in your body as you try to do both.
- Don’t separate the ankles–Don’t separate the ankles when you are performing the exercise. It is best essential to keep them touching so that you are rightly exerting force on your hips.
- Don’t hold your breath–Be sure not to hold your breath as you perform this exercise. It is essential, as doing so will land you in hyperventilation at the end of the training. Instead, use an ample supply of air to breathe as you perform this exercise.
Stay confident and raise your knees at the highest possible angle. It might require an extra contraction of the gluteus muscle at the climax of the exercise.
Some alternatives to the clamshell exercise for those with a medical condition or disability include:
1. Hip Abduction with Sideline
You will raise your whole top leg and not just the knee. This is helpful for people who have some pain in their knees and therefore cannot depend on the knee only. This makes it different from a regular clamshell exercise.
- Try to add dumbbells if you want to do double duty and work your lower and upper body simultaneously. It will optimize the burning of your glutes. Also, it will tone your shoulders and oblique muscles.
- You can lie on the side in a conventional clamshell pose. Bend your knees at 45 degrees. Hold a 3-pound dumbbell in your hand and keep the elbow in towards your side.
- Lift the upper arm and the upper leg towards the ceiling, making a right angle. Keep the hips in a stacking position. Engage your core.
- Keep the elbows inwards on your side and keep the lower limb on the floor
- Hold them at the top side for a while before you return to the initial position. Repeat the gesture at least ten times. Switch side for the complete activity.
2. Stability Ball Crunch
It is a modification of the clamshell exercise. However, it will work towards your core and your abs.
- Place a stability ball right between your legs as you lie on your back. It will stabilize the lower legs for an optimum balance.
- Place your hands behind your head. Lift the legs and shoulders from the ground. It will benefit your pelvis, hip flexors, and abs.
- Pause for a while before you return to the initial position.
- Repeat for ten times.
The clamshell exercise helps in balancing the muscular effort between the outer and the inner thighs. Also, it helps optimizes the strength of the pelvic floor. Creating a balance in your hip and leg muscles will help in the prevention of injury. Other core exercises that provide balance and strength are the superman, bridges, planks, and fire hydrant exercises.