The good ole hips! These guys cause more issues in the body than anything else and it’s not even close. Got a bad low back? It’s probably coming from your hips. Got knee issues? Yep, it’s probably coming from your hips. Got really locked up ankles? Once again, it’s probably coming from your hips. However, when healthy, our hips are responsible for letting us run, walk, jump, bike and pretty much anything that utilizes our lower body. If you have great hips, you can do anything you want in life!
Now before you get all depressed about your crappy hips, don’t worry. We’re going to go into a quick little introduction into how your hips work and also how you can assess them if you’re having some issues.
First off, just like the shoulder, the hip is a ball and socket joint. They’re the second most mobile joint in the body right behind the shoulders. If you missed our blog about the shoulders, go check it out HERE.
The ball of your hip is the top part of your femur (the huge bone that makes up your upper leg). The socket is called the acetabulum and this is located on the outer edge of the pelvis. Imagine the end of your femur pops into you acetabulum like an old lego guy.
When you have a fully functioning hip you can move that femur all over the place with no restrictions. However, when hip range of motion is comprised or you feel that dreaded front of the hip pinch, it’s due to a lack of space in the socket. Think of a healthy socket as a salad bowl and the end of your femur head as a marble. There’s plenty of room for that ball to move, right? The bigger the salad bowl, the more movement capability. But if your hip is compromised, you have a socket more similar to a shot glass. So as the femur head moves in the limited space you’re going to get that bone on bone pinching that many people experience. Ouch!
So how do you tell how much space is in your socket? You start testing the internal rotation of your hip. Whenever someone comes to see me with any of the issues listed earlier, I always check to see what their internal rotation looks like. It’s the highest on the food chain for healthy hip function. If you can’t internally rotate, then you most definitely can’t do any other motions of the hip, (flexion, extension, abduction, or adduction).
TIME FOR A TEST DRIVE
To test your internal rotation, just take the same position in the photo above. Squeeze the block or something similar like a pillow and slowly rotate your lower leg away from the midline of the body. Don’t let your sit bones come off of the seat. If you feel a pinch deep in your socket or you just simply hit a brick wall not that far out from the body…. then you have a shot glass for a socket and you’ve got work to do!
If you have adequate internal rotation, the next thing you need to check out is what the rest of the hip is capable of. The best way to assess (plus build a better hip), is with Standing Hip CARs. During the Hip CAR you’ll see where you might have some other deficiencies in the hip that you can start attacking asap! Hip CARs plus some other accessory exercises will start getting the hip back on track. Learn how to do the Hip CAR in the video below.
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As always, remember to Be Strong, Be Mobile!
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)
Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor
Weck Method Qualified