Function of the Hips

Topics: Pelvis, Hip, Gluteus medius muscle Pages: 12 (2436 words) Published: March 19, 2013
Give your internal
hip rotators
more attention
and excel

By Phil Wagner, BS, CSCS


hip joint. External rotation will allow you to open
up the hips to turn your body, furthering your
ability to react to any change in play.


The deep muscles of your hip both help finetune the orientation of your pelvis on the legs and affect your spinal curvatures. This is an important
addition to the straightforward and powerful
capabilities of the other, more massively built
muscles of the hip (e.g., gluteus maximus) and leg
(e.g., quadriceps). The IRs’ contractions tend to be
prolonged and chronic, and their actions small and
precise. However, we all know that achieving
excellence or a personal record often depends on
just a few pounds, a couple of inches, or a
hundredth of a second. And t hat’s where the IRs
can make the difference.

W W W. P U R E P O W E R M A G . C O M

Agility can be defined as the gracefulness of a
person who’s quick and nimble, characteristics that
require you to change the direction of movement
efficiently. For example, a running back in football
must be able to read the oncoming defense and be
able to shift his line of attack quickly and smoothly
to make the most yards out of each run. Not only
do the IRs work to stabilize the hip in these
accelerations and decelerations, but the muscles
also contribute the action of internal rotation, such
as when the leg crosses the body, to alter the
direction of movement. IRs also need to be flexible
to allow external rotation of the leg, when the leg
is rotated away from the body beginning from the

the heel. You should only move from the hip
sockets; do not rotate the pelvis. Ideally, you
should be able to turn your foot and knee to about
45 degrees.
Getting Tight
The gluteal muscles only really act as internal
rotators when the hip is flexed at 40 degrees, or
greater, such as in a half- or full squat. However,
this flexion is a common position of many athletic
movements; the knee drive in running, the squat in
weight training, and the depth required before
extending into a jump. Such a multitude of hip
flexion movements can lead to tightness in
the frontal hip region because


M AY 2 0 0 4


weight-bearing foot to clear the ground as it’s
brought forward or backward during movement.
This responsibility becomes drastically more
important during weight-bearing locomotion, such
as the farmer’s walk in a strongman competition or
walking out of a squat rack with the bar.
The IRs will also serve to maintain a healthy
and powerful squat stance. As you descend and
ascend, your knees should point in the same
direction as the toes to avoid damage to an
important ligament of your knee called the medial
collateral ligament. Any other position can cause
abnormal cartilage loading and improper tracking
of your kneecap. The proper set-up to achieve this
foot-thigh alignment generally involves pointing
your toes out slightly. Tightness in the IRs can pull
your knees inward, preventing them from following
the outward direction of the feet that allows proper
depth and optimal muscle activation.

Testing IRs
To check IR flexibility, stand against a wall
with feet hip-width apart. Imagine squashing a bug
by rotating your leg and foot outward, pivoting on


Heavy Lifting
The IRs, especially the gluteus
medius and minimus, play an essential
role in locomotion, preventing the
sagging of the pelvis during walking.
Keeping the pelvis level enables the non-

Based on the above, you can easily see that any
degree of tightness or malfunction in the IRs can
put a damper on your performance. But how do
you know if your IRs have problems?


Significant force must be generated to
accelerate and run at high speeds. In addition to
the obvious forward direction of force generation,
the body must also prevent the rotational...
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