Your hip mobility has a massive impact on the rest of your anatomy.
Your hips are the connection point of both the spine and the legs. The ‘hip girdle’ and the 17-25 muscles that it encompasses are the central station of the body. Power Yoga teacher Baron Baptiste refers to the hips as ‘the mother of all movement. When they’re open, you’ll be much more mobile above and below them’. So working on hip mobility improves your relationship with the rest of your body and its overall wellbeing. In yoga we are able to move our ball-and-socket hip joint through its full range of motion, and move in ways that break our usual patterns, whether those patterns are ones of underuse from a sedentary lifestyle, or overuse of particular muscles and neglect of others from a very active lifestyle.
Releasing the tightness in the hips releases aches and soreness in the lower back, neck and knees.
For the reasons mentioned above, improvement in the mobility of the hips has a profound effect on releasing pain and tightness from other parts of the anatomy that are compensating for the tightness and restrictions of the hips. Because the hips are the most common area of poor mobility, most of us are walking around with some kind of dysfunction as a product of overcompensation. You will see an example of this below (the impacts of staying in seat for long periods of time). While addressing your hip mobility won’t necessarily fix everything in your body, it will certainly eliminate a major stressor on your body as a whole – so that you can then focus on the smaller, more particular sites and joints of the body. As well as relieving pain and discomfort in other areas of the body, gaining more supple hips through regular yoga practice can give you a more agile gait and improve circulation in your legs – things very good for the aging process!
Hip openers can remedy the negative impacts of excessive sitting on our body
There is a good reason why many of us have a love/hate relationship with hip opening yoga poses – our bodies crave them and often feel lighter and more open after, but the process itself can be rather uncomfortable because of the nature of our lifestyles. The majority of us sit for most of our day, which shortens the hip flexors at the front of the hip (psoas, rectus femoris, sartorius), tightens the hip rotators (piriformis, obturator internus, gamellus, to name a few) and weakens our glute muscles. Our glutes and hip flexors are pivotal to activation of our hips, so when they’re weak and/or inactive, the lower back takes over. Now, the lower back, or the lumbar spine, is not designed for a lot of activity. Its chief function is to be our ‘core’, i.e. to provide support and stability. So having tight hips and a weak posterior chain increases the load and overuse of the spine, which spells very bad news for our ability to pick up things without sustaining injury – a newborn baby can easily cause an injury, let alone heavy weights in the gym. Part 2 of this blog (coming next week) will discuss more about the influences of hip openers on an active body and address the psychological/emotional aspects of releasing the hips.
Saturday19th September 1pm-3pm: Emily will be teaching a hip opening workshop at Kula which focuses on ‘breaking the mould’, which by definition is ‘to do something differently, after it has been done in the same way for a long time.’ If we can develop new patterns, stability and mobility for this central position of the body, then we start to influence, relieve and transform the rest of the entire body. All levels welcome. See you there!