You can use specific movements to make a big impact on your hips.
One thing I see people frequently miss in their quest for hips that feel and move great is this: they don’t think about the deeper tissues that make up the hip joint. Working the muscles of the hip is great, but when you don’t work to make the hip joint have a useful amount of range of motion, everything gets a bit hamstrung sooner or later.
In my last post, I walked you through the basics of the anatomy of your hip. When you have an understanding of what makes up your hips – besides just muscles – you are able to be a better caretaker of your body.
If you missed my simple walk-through of hip anatomy, click here to read it. Now let’s dive into the kind of movement that makes a big impact on your hips…
If The Joint Is Functional
All joints have fundamental motions they are capable of moving through – that is – if the joint is functional. In the case of the hips, they are a ball-and-socket joint, which means huge amounts of range of motion if the joint is functional.
“If the joint is functional” is the big thing here. Most people tend not to think about the hip joint being dysfunctional other than in the case of needing a hip replacement. But hip replacements are the end stage of what often has been a very long history of hip joint dysfunction.
Your body contains a multitude of sensory receptors that respond to mechanical stimuli. They are called mechanoreceptors. The ones in your joint capsule – the deepest layer of your joint – are paying close attention to what motions are happening in the joint, and they are going to relay that information to your central nervous system. The central nervous system will them send information back, including info about how to change the muscle tone to allow/disallow motion.
This info contributes to the 3-D map that your brain makes of your body position and is updating it in real-time. If your brain doesn’t get good info about where your body is at in space, it can’t send good info back about how to move, and it’s more likely to ‘play it safe’ and disallow ranges of motion it doesn’t think you can safely use.
This is a gross oversimplification…we could spend days just talking about this process of info being received, sent, processed, and returned. But for now, the basic thing to remember is this:
Your stuff in your joint capsule is paying very close attention and it’s sending info to the CNS that your CNS will use to determine if/how you move your joint.
This is the first info your brain gets that it will use to determine how you move. It’s also info that tells your body how to maintain itself because ‘use it or lose it’ is real for your body.
So if you want your joint to be functional, capable of accessing the ranges of motion it’s built to access, you must have ample amounts of good information coming from the joint capsule. Rotation is a key movement for having a hip joint that is functional.
Move This Way
Your joint capsule is monitoring the ways in which you’re moving the joint and using that info to determine how other tissues that make up the joint should move and function. Joint rotation is a rich sensory experience for your body and so if your joint can rotate, other motions are more likely to be accessible to you.
Because more better information is good for getting more better movement.
Or if you prefer the opposite view of things: if your joint capsule is not moving well, then nothing else will move appropriately.
So today I want to show you a motion that asks you to do rotation in your hip joint. I took this from my Unbreakable Hips program, where we do rotation of the hip joint in a variety of ways, and learn more about how to further expand rotation in the hips in the ongoing education I provide in that program.
The motions I’m showing here are external and internal rotation of the hip joint – which means you are rotating the femur in the hip capsule. So in addition to hip muscles working during this drill, you’re going to be influencing those deeper mechanoreceptors and tissues that make up your hip capsule.
With this drill, I always think of doors that swing both directions. The door is on hinges that are fixed, and then the door swings around that fixed point depending on which way you push on it. If your leg is the door, use your hip joint as the fixed point the leg will rotate around. Don’t let the rest of your body move or shift to help. Instead, brace your body so that it stays tensed and in the starting position while you flex your hip tissues so that your leg rotates like how I am demonstrating in the video.