It's All in the Hips!
Updated: Jan 15
Welcome back to The ASPR Blog! This month we are covering the importance of hip strength and mobility. Today, we discuss in general the function of the hip!
Chubbs was right when he told Happy Gilmore “It’s all in the hips.” Whether you are a baseball player trying to generate enough power to throw a 100 mph fastball, a basketball player wanting to dunk a basketball, or a football player hoping to run a sub 4.4” 40 yard dash at the combine, it all starts with the hips. Yet, the hips are often overlooked as one of the body's most important sources of power and force, especially in athletes.
The hips are both a huge generator of power and peak athletic performance, as well as a huge risk factor for injury when not trained properly. Today’s post is going to focus on the latter. Many athletes and sports performance trainers do a phenomenal job at training these big movers for explosion and peak performance, but often lack dynamic stability and mobility throughout an athletic movement resulting in increased injury risk.
We will cover 3 things today in this blog post:
1) The Anatomy of the Hip
2) What makes the hip so importance?
3) How can I find out if I have any potential risk factors?
Let's dive in!
The Anatomy of the Hip
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint located where the head of the femur (your thigh bone) fits into a rounded socket of the pelvis. Because of this set up, the hip is able to perform 3 types of movement
Flexion / Extension - leg moves forward and backward
Abduction / Adduction - leg moves outward and inward
Internal Rotation / External Rotation - leg and toes rotate inward and outward
The muscles surrounding the him include both superficial and deep gluteal muscles. As seen in the image above, the deep gluteal (external rotator) muscles on posterior and lateral side of the pelvic and hip area are in view, serving many functions throughout a variety of hip motions. The superficial muscles gluteus maximus (1) and gluteus medius (2) are excised, to uncover the deep gluteal muscles. (Reproduced from with A. Neumann, Kinesiology of the Musculoskeletal System – Foundations for Rehabilitation, 2nd edition, Chapter 12 Hip, p. 496, Elsevier (2010).
Why Is The Hip So Important?
The hip joint is anatomically complex and contains over 15 muscles that work together to give the hip a full range of motion. The hip is one of the most mobile joints in the body. But, unlike the shoulder, it is very stable as a result of the bone structure and amount of musculature surrounding the joint. These muscles provide dynamic stability to joints when actively contract. Without this active tension, via contraction, muscles provide minimal stability
Lack of adequate hip strength and mobility can increase the risk of injuries above and below the hip joint (back/core, knee, ankle, and even the elbow). For example, a lack of hip mobility, more specifically hip internal rotation, of the stride leg when throwing a baseball increases the risk of elbow injury. When throwing a baseball the term “from the ground up” is often used. This is referring to the effective and efficient transfer of kinetic energy from the hips up the kinetic chain to generate throwing power. Oftentimes throwing athletes will have previous hamstring or groin injuries prior to an UCL tear.
In addition, most ACL tears are non contact injuries which leads to the question why or how? One interesting risk factor for ACL tears is pelvic width. The vector taken from the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) to the midline of the patella/tibial tubercle. The wider
the hips (larger Q angle), the more your hip lateral rotators have to maintain dynamic stability and resist internal rotation in the transverse plane throughout an athletic movement to remain injury free. Not only do our hips and core musculature provide dynamic stability to reduce the risk of injury, they are where force is generated to throw a ball harder, run faster, and jump higher.
Research supports these claims that proper hip function is crucial to help optimize athletic performance and minimize injury risk. For instance, in a study of 163 NCAA Division 1 athletes (100 male and 63 female) it was found that hip muscle imbalance was associated with increased prevalence of low back pain and injuries in athletes. Several studies indicate that no matter what sport you play, hip weakness leads to an increased incidence of knee and ankle injuries. So, in summary, if you want to become a better athlete, optimize your performance and minimize your injury risk—it’s all in the hips!
How Can I Find Out If I Have Any Risk Factors?
The only tried and true way to do this is to get a thorough assessment performed by a trained professional. Similar to having your blood pressure taken or getting regular blood work done at the doctor’s office, certified health professionals can regularly assess your joints and movement patterns to ensure they are within optimum ranges. That’s where Aviator Sports Performance & Rehabilitation comes in!
Aviator Sports Performance and Rehabilitation is deeply rooted in the scientific study of human movement and the innovative integration of technology into practice, ultimately aiming to help patients, athletes/clients in maintaining healthy, fit lifestyles, reduce injury risk, and achieve higher levels of sports performance. Our highly trained staff (Composed of Doctors of Physical Therapy, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialists & Biomechanic Specialists) & state-of-the-art movement screening services can help identify any significant abnormal movement patterns or strength limitations present, and work to provide our clients with a fully customized corrective action plan to mitigate injury risk and help improve performance.
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