One of the engines of our body is the hip, with the other engine being called the shoulder. The hip is arguably one of the joint mechanical challenges that creates issues around the stability of our trunk, sometimes overuse of the core and also downstream problems around the ankle.
The result is complex pain problems or movement issues which you will probably experience and probably why many of you struggle to tone up your glutes!! I mention glute tone because we often notice that patients that activate these muscles tend to have reduced low back pain and reduced knee pain and probably are the best movers on this planet!! Toning up the butt is often all we hear.
Firstly, the hip has a natural socket of stability, which allows the head of the femur to sit into a space called the acetabulum. Like the shoulder it has its own “rotator cuff” by being supported by structures of the gluteal muscles (the buttock) and the ligament or labrum of the hip. Hip stability is also greatly influenced by muscles of our hip flexors, including the TFL, psoas, illiacus and quadriceps along with the muscles of hip extension called the glue max and hamstring. If you stand on one leg and lift one knee towards your chest this is called hip flexion…and the balancing leg would be in a position of hip extension. Full expression of hip extension would be postures of a hip swing such as walking, running, leg kick in swimming, lunging and the rear leg movement of a golf swing as part of the follow thru of movement.
When we move with 100% joints mechanics of the hip;
1. When flexing the hip, this expresses full translating external rotation inside the joint socket creating strong or high force productive positions. If we looked at Usain Bolt from the front view of his sprinting knee position, we would see this with an aligned ankle knee and hip posture. If you practice stepping up and down off a box at home (say milk crate level) you would hopefully see that the hip, knee and ankle is also aligned.
2. When extending the hip, this expresses full translating internal rotation inside the joint socket creating a strong or high force production. If you look at your hip swing at home by standing on one leg and swinging the opposite level, can you still manage to keep your ankle ,knee and hip in one perfectly straight line?
If your answer to the above is not 100% then guess what…you have hip mobility restriction. Anatomically this would mean inside your hip socket the head of femur as it translates into different positions in the acetabulum will be restricted in its ability to be in its most productive position. You wouldn’t necessarily be aware of this because overtime your body may of adjusted to a posture that feels comfortable rather than normal.
Due to the structure of the hip and proximity to the pelvis when our muscles are out of balance or if we live in mid-range comfortable body positions, we regularly see that hips become stiff and our patients develop compensatory movement patterns i.e.. they can’t manage the ankle, knee and hip alignment relationship. Often these patients also end up experiencing pain once the hip is challenged into end range positions or once we give them higher tempo movements or challenge via more increased load such as a dumbbell. It’s important to highlight here that problems in the hip do not always manifest as symptoms in the hip. We often see patients complaining of knee or ankle problems from “upstream” issues around the hip. I might add this is not just an adult patient problem phenomenon, we also see this with the kids we treat.
At NextMove our movement g
ym has been designed to address this notion of needing to RESTORE full Range of Motion (ROM) and therefore correct these joint mechanics.
Please see images below of how we might be able to help YOU and your hips.
We often use Facilitation bands and lower limb mobility techniques which help our patients achieve full physiological ROM, so they can put these back into their daily functional requirements.
Once our joint mechanics are addressed, we can then work more in the strength space with the advantage that our muscles we want to improve really engage. For some of you it might just help the buttock tone up!!