Most of us think about our “hips” as the entire pelvic area—front, back, and sides. For example, when we take our hip measurements to determine our pants size, we put the tape measure all around the widest part of pelvis. But when medical professionals talk about hip problems or breaking a hip, they are typically referring to the hip joint itself, where your pelvis connects to your thighbone. Here is an illustration:
Like your shoulder joint (see All About Your Shoulders), your hip joint allows a large range of motion. It is a joint is a synovial joint, which means it connects your pelvic bone and thighbone (femur) together with a joint capsule (a sock-like sleeve of connective tissue that holds the two bones relatively close together). The inner lining of this capsule is lined with synovial membrane, which secretes a lubricating liquid that allows the bones to move over each other more smoothly. Think about that the next time you’re moving in and out of a yoga standing pose or even just walking down the street. (For more on the anatomy of the hip joint, see Arthritis of the Hip Joint.) Here’s a list of all the movements you can make from your hip joints!
1.Flexion:This means moving your leg in toward the front of your lower torso or bringing the front of your lower torso toward your leg (a forward bend in your hips). For example, lifting your leg up in Standing Hand to Foot pose (Hasta Padangustasana) or Reclined Standing Hand to Foot pose (Supta Padangusthasana), stepping one leg forward and bending that knee as in Warrior 1 (Virabrdrasana 1) or tipping the hips forward over the leg Pyramid pose (Pasvottanasana).
2. Extension: This means moving your leg back toward the back of your lower torso or bringing the back of your lower torso toward your leg (a backbend in your hips). For example, when you step your back leg back into Warrior 1 or lift your legs up in Locust pose (Salabasana).
3. Abduction:This means moving your leg to the side, away from the midline of your body. For example, when you step both legs out to the sides from Mountain pose (Tadasana) into the wide-leg stance for a standing pose such as Triangle pose (Trikonasana).
4.Adduction:This means moving one leg across the other, as in Eagle pose (Garudasana), or moving a leg that was out to the side back toward the midline of the body, such as stepping back into Mountain pose from a wide-leg stance.
5.External Rotation:This means turning your leg out within your hip socket so the leg turns away from the midline of your body. For example, when setting up your front foot position for Triangle pose, you externally rotate your front leg as you turn your front foot out to 90 degrees before entering the full pose. This movement is almost always combined with one or more of the others listed above.
6.Internal Rotation:This means turning your leg in within your hip socket so the leg turns toward the midline of your body. For example, when you are setting up your back foot position for Triangle pose, you internally rotate your back leg as your turn your back foot slightly inward. This movement is almost always combined with one or more of the others listed above.
As with the shoulder joint, the hip joint structure that provides so much range of motion also creates certain vulnerabilities. For example, arthritis of the hip joint is a particularly common in those who are aging. So, keeping your hips happy and healthy should be a regular component of your yoga for healthy aging practice. Generally, this means practicing both stretching and strengthening the muscles around the hip joint, unless you are someone who is hypermobile, in which case, you should focus just on strengthening.
Here’s the information we have on the blog that help you figure out how to practice whether your hip joints are currently healthy or you are having a problem with them.
InDifferences Between Male and Female Pelvic StructuresShari discusses the differences between the male and female pelvic structure and how that might influence the way that you practice to keep your hip joints happy and healthy.
In The Psoas Muscle and YogaBaxter discusses the psoas muscle, a really important muscle that affects your hip joints, as it connects your spine with your leg through your hip.
InKeeping Your Hips Happy and Healthyby Shari provides general advice for practicing to keep your hip joints in healthy condition.
InFeatured Sequence: New Lower Body Strength SequenceBaxter provides an all-around sequence that will strengthen the muscles around the hip joint.
InFriday Q&A: Strengthening Your HipsBaxter provides a sequence for strengthening muscles around the hip joints designed especially for someone who is hypermobile in those joints.
In Featured Sequence: Lower Body Flexibility PracticeBaxter provides an all-around sequence that will allow you to move your hip joints through their entire range of motion.
In Interview with Charlotte Bell, Author of Hip-Healthy AsanaI interview Charlotte about her reasons for writing this book and her basic advice.
InExcerpts from Hip-Healthy Asanawe share some excerpts from Charlotte Bell’s book, including a sequence!
InFriday Q&A: Opening Your Hips Without Knee PainBaxter provides a short sequence for moving the hip joints in their entire range of motion for those who have problematic knees.
In Too Much Yoga or Just the Wrong Kind?I discusses the problem of hypermobility in the hip joints and provide advice changing your practice to prevent development of future problems.
InArthritis of the Hip JointBaxter and I describe the anatomy of the hip joint, how arthritis can develop in the joint, and how to practice to stabilize and/or improve arthritis symptoms.
InYoga and Hip DysplasiaBaxter discusses what hip dysplasia is and how to practice if you have it.
InFriday Q&A: Hip Pain and YogaShari and Baxter provide more advice for practicing with hip dysplasia when there is pain.
InAll About Hip Replacements and YogaIprovides an overview of all the information we have on the blog about hip replacements and how to practice if you have one. There's a lot!
InFriday Q&A: Recovering from Hip FractureBaxter provides advice for practicing when you are recovering from a hip joint fracture but have not had a joint replacement.
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