I’ve always had problems with my hips. I was actually born with both my hips dislocated (the head of the femur is completely out of the socket) which is quite uncommon to have both.
From birth until I was around 6 months I had to wear a plastic brace over my nappy to keep my legs laterally rotated outwards.
My hips have always felt tight and particularly uncomfortable when I exercised - until I found Pilates !
My hips were fine rotating outwards and this is the position my hips spent most of their time, although I struggled with internal rotation.
Internal hip rotation is the movement you make when you twist your femur (upper leg bone) inward.
When other parts of the lower body compensate for insufficient hip internal rotation, it might increase your risk of an injury.
Exercises we do in our sessions can help you to develop strong hip internal rotators. Stretches we carry out in our sessions also improve flexibility and range of motion in the muscles that rotate the hips inward. Remember being able to internally rotate your hips is very important for hip health.
You may now be wondering 'how do I know if mine is normal?'
It's a great idea to learn what normal hip internal rotation is, and how to tell if yours is abnormal, so if any problems arise you will notice and be able to resolve them straight away.
Normal hip rotation is thought to be 40-45 degrees.(picture above)
Although not many people have the ability to measure the exact angle that their leg moves, so unless their hip rotation is wildly abnormal, this may be hard to measure. Luckily, there are other indicators that you can use to check your hip rotation.
Normal hip internal rotation should enable the person to move their limbs freely from their hip joint whilst maintaining stillness in their pelvis. There should be no stiffness or pain, and mobility should be full and flexible.
Any pain in the upper leg or buttocks area could be due to poor hip internal rotation, as could soreness or stiffness in the back or lower down the leg, as far as the knee - as the muscles here compensate to make up for weak or damaged hip muscles. For example, if your hip rotators aren't working properly, your spine could be rotating more to make up for it.! This can cause aggravation and cause pain to the lower back.
How to Fix Internal Rotation
The good news is that you can train your hips to be able to get better at rotating internally.
The first step is to address any tight muscles in the hip area, followed by creating the movement of internal rotation in the hips, and finally by activating the muscles used in your new learned motion.
To have healthy and mobile hips you will not only want to be able to internally rotate your thigh bone, but also have sufficient external rotation, flexion and extension in that joint too.