Hip stability might be the number one issue facing women when it comes to injuries and ailments. Injuries of the ACL of the knee have reached epidemic proportions among young women, and not just athletes. Nobody can pinpoint a reason, with theories ranging from the increased physical nature of women’s sports to biomechanical issues to a possible tie-in to menstrual cycles.
The hip cuff is the control unit for your lower body. It governs the thigh, which interacts with your knee and affects your foot position. Tremendous attention must be paid to strengthening the muscles in and around the hips as they are critical in controlling everything below and above your hips.
The hip cuff consists of more than 40 muscles in and around your lower pelvis that are responsible for much of your lower body movement. Hips are the most overlooked area when it comes to decreasing the potential for injury. Most back and hip problems occur because of improper mobility and stability and faulty utilization of the hips. If for instance, your hips are immobile and lack motion, it’s as if one of your thigh bones is welded to your pelvis- imagine wearing a permanent cast on your hip. To get anything to move, you would have to use excessive motion in your knees and back to make up for your hip’s immobility. The lower lumbar spine and the knee joint would be forced to compensate by increasing mobility, likely resulting in injury. Both your low back and knees were meant to be secondary, not primary movers.
We want to focus on becoming gluteal (butt) dominant instead of quad dominant. This is a key concept. Most women move from their knee joints as opposed to their hip joints and to continue doing so is to invite ACL and other leg injuries. A simple thing you can do is be aware of your posture during your workouts and daily movement. Women’s knees often fall more toward the midline of the body, creating a greater angle from the knee to the hip. Therefore, watch your workout routine and movement and make sure your knees are not coming together and not rubbing together.
It’s time to focus on movements that challenge the hip rotators. Amy, my exercise therapist, always says “it’s all about the butt!” Well, it’s truth! And although our exercises might focus a lot on the butt, they are actually knee and back protectors. The butt gives your body the ability to control the collapsing of your knees and better disperse force into your muscular system. So get on board with mobilizing, stabilizing, and strengthening your glutes! It will keep you full steam ahead in life.
Exercise of the month
Side Lying Toe-Heel Arc
Start by lying on your left side on the floor with your body in a straight line from head to toe. Your top hip bone should be directly lined up over your bottom hip bone with right foot resting on top of the left foot. Flex your right foot as you lift your leg about 8 incehes off of the ground. As if you were drawing a rainbow or an arc with your foot, rotate your hip and touch the floor with your toe. Reverse the arc and touch behind you with your heel. Continue the movement front and back for 15-20 repetitions. Turn on your right side and repeat the exercise with your left leg.