Pilates and your hips!

After learning a bit about how core stability can help with many benefits to the body, from the last of our blog posts, today we focus on how a strong core can improve pelvic posture thus enabling the pelvis to act as a solid, stable and efficient foundation for your trunk above, and hips below.

The hips are one of the largest weight-bearing joints in the body. To keep it moving smoothly, a complex network of bones, cartilage, muscles, ligaments, and tendons must all work in harmony. Therefore, unfortunately there are more areas available for injury!

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint where the head of the femur articulates with the cuplike acetabulum of the pelvic bone. The acetabulum fits tightly around the head of the femur. The ball is normally held in the socket by very powerful ligaments that form a complete sleeve around the joint and the socket is made deeper by strong tissue called the labrum.

hip joint

Although most Pilates exercises work on multiple areas of the body, for those with hip problems or abnormalities targeted strengthening is a perfect solution. There are various types of hip problems one can encounter, however Pilates has been proven to significantly improve pain and hip function for those experiencing long standing problems.

It is good to remember that the body works as a whole and when a certain body region is inefficient or in pain, the whole system will alter as the body finds a new way to move. This is called movement dysfunction and often causes pain, quite often somewhere else in the chain.

Here are a few interesting facts about the changes we see in the pelvic strength and stability in those with hip pain:

  • Painful or over-active hip flexor (Illiopsoas muscle) can slowly weaken the deep abdominal muscles that support your spine.
  • Sometimes the timing of muscular contractions that occur in the pelvis and spine, which make you stable as you move, can alter – causing an inefficient and unstable pelvic foundation.
  • The timing of muscles to control your hips can also alter, causing weakened buttock muscles and can cause your leg muscles to over work and become tight (hamstrings).

anatomy-of-the-groin-musclesSo as you can see, learning to activate and retrain your pelvic muscles can improve your hip control. Exercises should target the following muscle groups:

  • Pelvic floor and Transversus abdominals (deep abs)
  • All glutes; gluteus medius, maximus, minimus, and your quadratis femoris.

It is very important to recognise whether your pain and discomfort is acute or chronic, before introducing Pilates in to your routine to determine whether it can be treatable/manageable.

Acute pain in the hip/pelvic area can begin suddenly and is usually sharp. This might be caused by various different events or circumstances. It can be mild and last just a moment, or it might be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months, and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, might lead to chronic pain.

Chronic pain persists despite the fact that the injury has healed. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Physical effects include tense muscles, limited mobility, a lack of energy, and changes in appetite. Emotional effects include depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of re-injury. Such a fear might hinder a person’s ability to return to normal work or leisure activities. Chronic pain might have originated with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there might be an ongoing cause of pain. However, some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.


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