So instead of Technique Tuesdays I'm adopting the name "Technique On A Tuesday" due to the fact that I seem to manage every other Tuesday, or so. Perhaps if I can manage to get a post up more consistently I'll go back to the former and drop the latter. But for now, I like it.
On to today's post.
Stabilizing The Standing Hip. First, a quick and basic primer on what parts of the glutes do. The gluteus maximus gives us that booty popping shape (when trained to do so) and it works to bring the torso back into an erect position (coming from stooping or leaning forward). The gluteus medius has a hand in the outward rotation of the hip (turn-out). The glutes, in all their parts, are much more complex. But that is a basic overview.
In this photo I am letting the hip of the "working" or "gesture" leg (the one lifted in passe), namely the gluteus maximus, do most of the lifting. This causes the hip of the "standing" or support leg to essentially disengage, or not fire up in a way to stay stable. I can certainly hang out and find some semblance of balancing. But if I were to add any type of challenge, rising onto the ball of the standing foot, a jump, pivot of the heel or a turn, I would most likely fall out of the position.
gluteus medius of the support leg. The gluteus medius of the passe leg is also more engaged than in the previous photo. Of course, all the muscles of the both legs are working. Each doing their specific job.
Some of the ways I have described this is to think of the hips as a type writer roller (yeah, I know not all age groups will know what I'm talking about). If your type writer roller is at an angle then your type writer is busted. To fix it it you must keep your roll level.
I have also jokingly asked what a student would do with their glutes on their supporting side if they knew I was coming in with a punch right to that area. That usually increases the engagement of the muscles.
A couple of good exercises to practice this, and some great hip warm-ups;
Here are a couple of exercises that emphasize pinning and stabilizing the supporting hip as well as the supporting side of the body.
I use these when I teach mat Pilates as a warm-up for both the hips and the concept of firing up the supporting side.
Passe Hip Circles.
Start with legs parallel, knees facing ceiling and toes pointed. Arms are alongside the body.
Engage the core as you draw the right knee up.
Pin the supporting side, or base side, of the body to the floor or mat. This requires an effort along the entire side of the supporting side of the body, especially in the core region (I like to call this area "nipple to kneecap").
Then lengthen the leg to its start position.
Do about 5 sets. Inhale as you draw the knee up and out. Exhale as you lengthen.
Do 5 sets in reverse.
Inhale as the knee draws to passe. Exhale as the leg lengthens.
Be sure to do the other side in equal amounts.
Table-Top Leg, Across and Side.
Bring the right leg to a table-top position.
Inhale as the leg crosses the mid-line of the body. Keep the back of the pelvis pinned to the mat. Don't loose control and fall over to the left.
Exhale as the leg opens to the right side. Keep the left, or base side, of the body pinned to the floor or mat. Don't let the body fall with the leg.
Do about 5 sets. Be sure and do the other side in equal amounts.
I love these exercise as they illustrated the importance of the supporting side, and they are great warm-ups for the hips.
Let's hear it for my crack-shot photographer! ( My 12 year old son, Neil).
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Enjoy the dance that is life!