Exploring the Rotator Cuff of the Hip Part II
The other day I decided to run to my Pilates studio to practice on the equipment and then run home. During my run to the studio my body was not happy. My low back felt funky and unstable, and my gait just didn’t feel smooth. Often when I run, my mind starts cranking out thoughts and ideas. This time I was thinking about this idea of the hip cuff.
So, when I got to the studio, I decided to experiment with some hip activation to see if I felt a difference in my body on the run home. Meghann refers to hip activation as “plugging the hip.” As with shoulder stability and the action of pulling the arm bone deeper into the socket, activating your hip involves the action of pulling the femur deeper into the hip socket. For me, this takes some concentration and is subtler than with the shoulder. With this idea in mind, I did the side series on the Cadillac with a light spring and static hip activation against a wall. And guess what? The difference on my run home was staggering!
It’s hard to believe that one session can make a difference, but thanks to something called neuroplasticity it is definitely possible. The time I spent focusing on activating my hip helped to rewire my brain to move my body a little differently. Yes, some of it could be that I was more warmed up, but my body felt more aligned and my hips and pelvis felt more stable. I had no low back pain. It illuminated how important and how much more efficient it is to move from a stable base. It isn’t a novel concept, but I was relying too much on my strong core and glutes to stabilize my pelvis. The hip plug really brought it all together! Not everyone will feel a difference so quickly, or you might feel a difference in the short term but revert back to your original pattern. That’s okay! For both neuro and non-neuro clients, repetition is key.
I recently began emphasizing this idea with my clients. Engaging the hip plug is challenging for anyone, but especially for someone with a neurological condition. Take, for example, my client James, who is living with MS. He has severe foot drop and walks assisted with a cane, and his compensatory movement pattern is circumduction of the leg, primarily on his right side. He also hyperextends at the knee, also primarily on his right side. I was playing around with ways for him to feel stability in his pelvis and decided to try a modification of a setup I learned during the Pilates for Neurological Conditions workshop. You will see in the video and picture below that I had James side lying and used a purple spring to support some of his leg weight, with a long yellow spring threaded through to his foot. Supporting some of his leg weight helped him activate the hip plug. At first he said he wasn’t sure he was feeling the “hip plug,” but he said he definitely felt more stable in his pelvis, which led to him actually moving his leg through a range of motion gait pattern. I was so excited that I cheered! James felt a huge sense of accomplishment, which of course increased his dopamine, which is crucial for neuroplasticity. Win-win!
In my next blog post I am excited to share with you some of the takeaways from my first 3-Day intensive with Meghann. We explored so many neuro concepts in three days and it was amazing to have Meghann’s eyes and hands there to help organize and optimize my sessions. I hope my clients enjoyed it as much as I did, and I can’t wait to share more next month!