Pilates Exercise Tips: Healthy Hips and Hinging Exercises

by | Jun 3, 2013 | Pilates | 0 comments

HingeHinging exercises for healthy hips are an important part of Pilates training to develop healthy movement habits.  We have lots of joints that hinge – our elbows, knees, and hips are the big three, (and then lots of little finger & toe digits…) and while they’re ALL important, I believe understanding how to get a great HINGE from the Hips is crucial for good Pilates technique, and really good movement habits for the pelvis, hips, and legs, for everything we do.

So many people are “grippy” at the hips because the muscles they’re using, and the way they think about hinging is actually restricting movement instead of helping it.

When you’re doing Pilates (or any other activity) where is your focus to lead the movement of the hips to hinge forward?

  • Do you hinge forward by pulling the front of the hip (ASIS) closer to the thighs?
  • Do you lead by moving the shoulders and upper body first?

These seem to be the two most typical methods clients use thinking they’re doing a great hinge.  But neither of these really helps you execute fabulous functional movement from the hip.

Here Are 3 Training Tips to get a great Hinge from the Hips:

  1.  Keep your “Clam” on and take it with you to move the pelvis.
  2. To Hinge Forward, lead the movement from the back of the body.
  3. To Hinge Backwards, lead the movement from the front of the body.

What’s the “Clam?”  Your pubic bone to tail bone connection (Front to back of the Pelvic Floor.)   And if it’s working well, your Rectus Femoris (the grippy hip flexor will release and let go!)

  • When you hinge forward from the hips, the whole pelvis has to move…  So lead from the BACK of the Hip, but be sure to allow the pubic bone to move too.
  • When you hinge backwards from the hips the whole pelvis is still moving…  But now you’ve got to take the Abs with you, move the tailbone, and open the angle between the thigh and the hip.

There are lots of great Pilates exercises to practice this on, here are just a few to get you started:

In Mat Class

  • Do a hinge version of Spine Stretch forward or the Saw.
  • Practice Lifting Up (hinging the pelvis forward) in Open Leg Rocker when you’re balancing
  • Hinge to roll down out of Neck Pull
  • Lift up out of the Scoop in Teaser 1 & 3

Reformer Exercises

  • Find a little more “hinge” to sit up tall for Stomach Massage Hands Back
  • Rowing II (facing the shoulder rests)
  • Flatback Elephant
  • Short Box – Tall (and Twist)

Hinging Homework:

A wonderful place to practice your hinge is seated in a chair!  You can practice at home in-between   Pilates workouts to reinforce your new healthy hips hinging action!  Often, I have my clients just sit on the edge of the Reformer or Cadillac and we practice “Hinge and Round Forward,” rolling up  through the back to sit tall.  Or “Hinge and Round Forward” and lengthen out to flat back to “Hinge Back Up.”  Both are excellent ways to practice without any special equipment needed.

Hope you’re inspired to focus on improving, or fine-tuning the movement from your hips for a healthy hinge.  Drop me a line and let me know what you’ve noticed by paying attention to keeping your “Clam on”, leading from the back of the hips to hinge forward, and opening the angle of the hips to hinge backwards.  Can you feel a difference in the freedom of movement with these simple cues?

Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.


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