The Hips

The Hips

The Hips

Ball and socket joint allows movement in all directions:

  • Range of Motion
  • Flexion (forward bend) Extension (backbend/lunge) Abduction (legs apart,) Adduction (legs cross midline)
  • Internal Rotation
  • External Rotation

Hip Adductors and Flexors

To feel the muscles in action, come to an easy-seated pose, Press down on the knees while trying to lift them, this will lift the low back and tilt the pelvic bowl forward…. say hello to your hip adductors and hip flexorsIn the west, the practitioner spends more time sitting, squatting, lunging and this can cause a decrease in the length and flexibility of the hip adductors and hip flexors.

Often time’s injury to this part of the body is felt in the groin.  I see so many of practitioners with a weak core, which is so surprising to me. The strength then must come from the quads and the hip adductors, which puts a strain on the weaker counterparts, the hamstrings, and the abductors.

Hip adductors are responsible for external hip rotation, hip adduction, hip extension, hip flexion and transverse Hip adduction, which is so important for fluid safe movement in many of today’s activities.

You can see the lineman in the center of the photo is in a transverse hip adduction stance.  Often people are focused on ways to create strength in this muscle group.
Squats, lunges, knee lifts, etc……..  Over time that muscles get shorter and lose what little flexibility it had and increases the risk of injury in the form of a tear or pull.  This muscle group needs to be lengthened as well as strengthened.  A practice strong in forwarding folds only increases the risk of shortening these muscles.

Too often hip adductor stretches are ignored and practitioner needs to bring them into the practice.  A locked up pelvis in the practitioner is a good indicator of tight adductors.  The inability to tip the pelvic bowl forward and backward is something I see a lot of in Today’s practitioner.  It is not that they don’t know how to do it; they literally have no movement there.

There are many effective ways to release the pelvis and help to lengthen the adductors like wide-legged forward folds, dancer pose, runners lunge, etc.

Free up your hips!  Decrease your risk of injury!

Hip Abductor Strength and Flexibility Key to Lateral Movement

I see it all the time that Just sitting in a yoga class can be difficult. Tight muscles can cause the lower pelvis to tuck in, rounding the low back all the weight is resting on the tailbone, the heart collapsed and the head drops forward.  It even looks uncomfortable.  What can be done to find ease?  Lowering knees closer to mat lowers center of gravity towards your pelvic core and helps to decrease muscular effort in an easy crossed legged seated pose.

 The obvious is to lengthen the muscles of the inner thigh, what may be less obvious and often overlooked is that the muscles of the outer thighs need to be strengthened.
The imbalance of strength and length once again becomes apparent as the hip adductor muscle strength overpowers the hip abductors.  This weakness in the abductors may then present with hip pain and knee pain that comes from fatigue and overuse of the abductors rather than from tight hips.

Hip adduction means to bring the leg towards the midline of the body or to work the inner thighs abduction means to take the leg away from the midline of the body, or to work the outer thigh.

Working with some of the people I encourage them to do asanas that help strengthen the abductor muscles in conjunction with lengthening the adductors.
Lengthening the hip flexors, i.e. the psoas and the illiacus as well as the quads, are important to be able to open up the hips.  Strengthening and lengthening the abductors will help to stabilize the hip, keep it flexible and working more efficiently so that you can continue to move with greater ease.

 The strength of the abductors is the key to lateral movements, in actions of pushing off, quickly change in direction or in landing.  The strength of these muscles is going to help keep the hips stable and protect the knee.

To feel the muscles in action, come to an easy-seated pose; Sit to the front of the sitting bones, turning the thighs’ outward you can feel the external hip rotators. Now as you press the outer edge of your feet down into the earth you can slowly feel the sides of the legs lower as you engage the abductors of the thighs. 

So here is where things get a little confusing, the muscles that abduct the thigh to the floor are also internal rotators of the hips, so you lengthen them in internal rotation and engage them as abductors. 

Balanced strength is the key and often the discomfort that arises from a tight hip may very well be fatigued hip abductors that have to work harder to keep up with the strength of the hip Adductors.

It is so important that you do not lose the integrity of your shoulder keeping it aligned over your elbow and maintaining an action of external rotation so as not to dislocate the shoulder.  As always listen to the wisdom of your body, if you are holding, or straining, guess what?  You are no longer working for the intended muscles group the asana is targeting.


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