Sunday, January 22, 2012

Activating Your Hips

A great deal of your core stability actually comes from your hips... an essential part of your kinetic chain and certainly not the part of your body that most of us would associate with dysfunctions and problems in your extremities (neck, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, feet, etc.).

Your hips also act as shock absorbers when you walk, run, or perform any action involving your legs. When your hip capsules and the muscles surrounding them move easily and freely, your body is able to store and release the force/energy generated when your feet strike the ground.
In contrast, a lack of hip motion (due to restrictions in either the hip capsule or the hip muscles) will often cause excessive force to be directed into the lower back and knees. This lack of force dissipation results in your body making compensations from your lower back into your neck and shoulders and can cause a series of chronic injuries.

This type of compensation is often seen in golfers who suffer from chronic shoulder injuries due to a lack of hip motion. Every time the golfer swings, he or she has to over-compensate for their restricted hip with excessive rotation of their shoulders. This usually results in neck, shoulder, and sometimes even jaw pain! Sound familiar?

Another major problem that occurs in conjunction with hip restriction is osteoarthritis. Restrictions in your hip prevent proper dissipation of force. Ideally this energy is stored and released with normal leg motion. However if, due to restrictions, the head of your femur (leg bone) is jamming directly into your pelvis (socket joint), you will see excessive wear and tear of the hip joint. This eventually leads to osteoarthritis, and in some cases, to a preventable hip replacement.

Basically if your hips are restricted, your body will compensate for this lack of motion by creating excessive motion in other parts of your body. Stress in your low back (due to lack of hip motion) causes compensations all the way back up to your shoulders and your neck.
The key point is that hip restrictions are often a contributing factor for many injuries which are distant from that area.

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