It’s All In The HIPS Part 1.

Fix your shitty hips

Yeah, you heard me.

Yeah you, the person tossing the 45’s on right away and hammering away at some garbage quality – neither high nor low bar – back squats. The person who has back pain after every squat session. The person who can’t deadlift because it always leaves you iced up on the couch for a week after. I’m gonna go for a wild guess and say that you struggle with balance during lunges AND you probably can’t do a rear foot elevated split squat without holding on to something the whole time.

Sound like you or someone you know?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, you probably need to check in on your femoral-pelvic-lumbar region’s relationships for chronic dysfunction and compensatory movement. 


Ok, ok in layman’s terms:

First, we’re talking about assessing the relationship of the two bones that make up our lumbo/pelvic area. Our pelvis and lumbar spine. Second, we’re talkin about assessing the hip joints – our thigh and pelvis, OR in anatomy terms, the femurs and the innominate bones of the pelvis as pictured and labeled below. 

If you want the meat and potatoes of the WHAT and HOW skip to this article’s part 2, but if you want to know WHY (which is important) keep reading part 1.

The lumbar spine, or “lower back” is shown in the video to the right and is comprised of five lumbar vertebrae and five sacral vertebrae + the coccyx.

The sacral vertebrae are fused to form the sacrum. The sacrum + the two innominate bones create the full pelvic ring. 

Where the sacrum of the spine and the iliac crests of the pelvis meet two sacro-iliac joints are formed.

 (This can be seen in the above video as well )

The SI joints move less than many other joints in terms of total degrees of motion and generally accommodate shifts in left/right counter-rotation during walking and running where they help maintain stability. 

The SI joints work with the front and center joint of the pelvis called the pubic symphysis that allows slight movement of the left and right halves of the pelvis. These joints can also move in circumstances such as childbirth where expansion of the pelvic ring may be necessary.

On top of this pelvis and it’s structures is an ornate lattice of connective tissue that we won’t go too much in to but it is important to know that all this connective tissue provides additional structural support and stability to the region over all. (Pictured Below from the Front/Back)

There’s lots of ways to name and identify different regions of the pelvis. The image to the left is simply one half of the pelvis looking in from a profile view.

Before puberty, the “innominate bones” are actually different bones fused by cartilage shown in dark blue in the photo on the left.  By the time we’re adults, these bones are fused into a left and right half of the pelvis and often referred to as the “innominate” bones of the pelvis.

The open cavity where those three bone meet in this image is referred to as the acetabulum and serves as the socket portion of our ball and socket joint hips 

The femur makes up the other “half” of our hip’s articulating surfaces and is the ball portion of the ball and socket joint hip.

The surface highlighted pink represents the head of the femur. This femur in particular is being viewed from the front (anterior) side head on. 

The head of the femur is coated in articular cartilage which allows a large range of smooth motion in a healthy hip joint. 


Ok, enough about bones, what about muscles?

I KNOW, big glutes and abs are sexy and exciting to train… However, if we don’t understand how to train our deep stabilizer muscles to function optimally we risk creating dysfunction, injury, and losing our hard earned booty gains to time off, chronic pain, surgeries, etc.

In a sense, our best training pursuits and achievements are only as sustainable as the base of joint stability, motor control, and articular health we build them on. 

What are the deep muscles of the hip and lower back? And what are the muscles that stabilize, reposition, and create/resist movement of the femur, pelvis, and lumbar spine?

FIRST, I want you to watch the below video just to get an image of the complex layering and interrelated nature of the muscles in this area. Worry about names later. For now, look at what structures are attached by muscle, what over laps, what rotates what, etc.

After creating all the layers, I cut the abdominals away for another look inside so we can get more of an idea of the lines of pull in the whole area and how each layer contributes movement according to attachment and muscle fiber orientation.

Notice anything? Go back, and name those muscles you noticed or had questions about – make some notes!

In the meantime, the muscles we’re going to *primarily*  focus on for either strength, stability, or mobility will be:

  • Psoas Major
  • Gluteus Minimus, Medius, and Maximus
  • Piriformis
  • Adductors
  • Diaphragm & Pelvic Floor

We will also look at a variety of movement patterns, joint structure, and joint ranges of motion. Essentially, we’re looking at things that either directly or indirectly influence the over all capacity and expression of hip function:

  • Hip Scour Test
  • Internal/External ROM
  • Flexion/Extension ROM
  • Lunge – forward
  • lunge – lateral
  • Ankle mobility
  • Knee rotation. flexion, extension


Stay tuned for part 2 where we knit it all together!


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