I want to do a split! Never in my life have I done a split. It’s time! The more I learn on the trapeze, the more I know I am not too old for this enviable adolescent pursuit. It’s time to release the tight hip flexors that hold me back, it’s time to liberate the hip joints.
What exactly are hip joints??
These powerful ball and socket joints connect the legs and torso. They are the mid point of the body from top to bottom. The ball is part of the the upper leg bone, or femur. The socket is located on the sides of the pelvis, facing outward, like the ears. The joints are located several inches in from the outside of the upper leg, the region commonly referred to as “hips.” The hips are not things, but rather they are amazing joints that enable walking, running, bending, lunging and of course, performing trapeze tricks.
Now that I understand the design of these joints, I need to locate them. These steps will help you find your hip joints too…
- First, place your thumbs on the top of your pelvic bone, with your finger tips pointing down to the floor, as they rest on the side of your legs (middle fingers on the seams of your pants.)
- Next, move your legs as if you are marching, as you press your fingers into the sides of the legs. Feel for a bone moving beneath your fingertips. Note that what you feel is not the hip joint, but the greater trochanter of the femur.
- Next, place your thumbs on the greater tronchanters, and lay your fingers on the front of your pants, approximately over the pants pockets.
- Again, move your legs to march in place. Feel for movement between the ball of the femur and the socket on the pelvis. ( You will find the movement approximately on the line of a bathing suit, or where you would see the creases in a baby’s legs.)
- Congratulations you have found your hip joints! With your fingers on the front of the joint, walk around. Notice how the leg swings from this joint as you walk both forward and backward.
- Take a look in the mirror or take a video on your camera to see just how far in the hip joints are from the outside of the leg.
Liberation has begun! From the hip joints, the legs can move in front of the body, behind the body, out to the side, as well as rotate. At the gym I explore these movements through my favorite Pilates exercises, including single leg circles, bridges, and teaser. The torso can also pivot in relation to the legs from the hip joint. This is an important part of squatting. One way to explore this movement is in a seated position. I practice pivoting the whole torso forward and back to balance from the hip joints. Movement originating in the joint is so much easier, more precise and efficient. Exactly what I need to find my split!
In the next post, I will share some gentle movements that assist in releasing tight hip joint muscles, and increasing range of motion (i.e. doing a split)
P.S. Freedom in the hip joints enhances freedom in the arms – an added bonus for my quest!