MAKE HIPS GREAT AGAIN | Active Health Spine & Sport
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Unlike America, which probably didn’t needed to be made “great” again, your hips, your neighbor’s hips and your dog’s hips probably do need to be great again. I say again, because I bet there used to be a time when 85% (stats are approximate and completely made up) of my patients, clients, friends, and animals’ hips weren’t painful, tight, sore, or poor at generating clean movement or any relative strength.

In fact, and I got this similar image from a Gray Cook lecture eons ago, this used to be the “ideal and stable” shooting position for US military, used as recently as in the Vietnam War but more  commonly in WWI.

Firearms History Blog

So what happened? Why can’t most adults I come across get into this position comfortably, let alone efficiently? Why are people in most “third world” countries capable of waiting for the bus while they smoke a cigarette in a full deep squat? But seriously, the question is a good one, and it has drawn a lot of great discussion over the last few years, or decades, over why most people have deficiencies in their hip function.

Some people will point to bony anatomical differences, and how the orientation of both the femoral neck, and the acetabulum affects the depth of hip flexion. Others will point to tight flexors or extensors, or adductors or rotators or something. Today’s post is not really to speculate on what is specifically limiting one’s ability to squat with full depth. That probably takes an in-depth and individualized assessment, and not speculating that just because one’s family has Scottish heritage they won’t ever full squat.

Today’s post is more about how to make hips great again. #MHGA

One way to make hips great again is through joint rotation training. Joint rotations move the joint through its maximum active range of motion. These are good for not only physically lubricating the joint by stimulating the synovial membrane, but stimulating mechanoreceptors in the outer capsule. This is important to giving your nervous system feedback on how the joint is moving and how much.

One way to express movement in joints is through controlled articular rotations. This “exercise” methodically moves the joint through all of the relevant ranges of motion in a controlled manner. Think of making big circle with your hip while also rotating it within the socket. Then reversing the circle and coming back the other way.

Controlled articular rotations help with

  • Maintaining range of motion and control over the motion
  • Improving articular health and longevity
  • Properly and methodically prepare the joint for movement

It’s important to focus on generating motion only from the hip being trained, and to not compensate for making a bigger “circle” by twisting your torso, pelvis and opposite hip.

Below are several examples of variations of this movement.

Wall Facing Hip Controlled Articular Rotations

Slow demonstration of the movement.

iPhone Timelapse of 5×5 performed twice

This exercise can be used with low intensity to take your hip joints through a full range of motion as part of a daily routine in order to keep joints healthy. It can also be used with higher levels of isometric muscle tension, or irradiation, in order to expand range, control, and strength.

On a personal note, I have been experimenting with how my hips feel after high volume of hip joint rotations and so far my hips feel great. I recommend 15-20 per day as part of a daily routine, however my high volume training has involved up to 100 reps per day per joint. As with any exercise or motion, don’t perform into or through pain, and this is something that won’t make your hip pain magically go away. For any pain, it’s important to be evaluated by a professional and to follow a proper treatment plan.


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