Hip Rotators: More Than Just Your Glutes

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Alright so everyone has heard of the dreaded dead butt syndrome, and if you haven’t, read my previous blogs.  It happens to many of us because we sit, a lot. Our body is great at compensating to get the task at hand complete. It can and will get us through workouts and running only using what it needs to.  Because our body is lazy in a way. Did you know you can get through a squat exercise without using your glutes AT ALL? Yup, you can. But then injuries start happening and we don’t know why…but we do. Maybe you have been working on the exercises to fix your “dead butt”. GREAT START! But did you know you have more than just your glutes back there? Que your Hip Rotators!!!

Yes, we need to make our glutes do something.  They are essential in our movement patterns, helping us stand/lift/walk.  Do you know how many butt muscles you actually have? More than just one.  I went over the easy ones last time: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.  These are all important for hip extension and abduction (bringing your leg behind you and to the outside).  But what if your knee moves IN when you single leg stand? Working on your gluteus medius is not the only muscle that needs fixing.

The deep hip rotator muscles of the body

The Hip Rotators

Now let’s talk about your hip rotators.  Your hip is a ball and socket joint which means it has a LOT of motion that it is expected to perform.  The hip muscles help move your leg forward and backward, out to the side and across the middle, AND rotate in and out.  You have 9 muscles that perform these motions. First, the hip external rotators (turning knee out): piriformis, obterator internus and externus, superior and inferior gemellus, quadratus femoris, gluteus maximus, and adductor magnus.  The deep muscles are often overlooked or not even mentioned when we work on single leg stance exercises to help promote good mechanics.

Our hip internal rotators are sartorius, gluteus medius and minimus (when the hip is flexed) and adductor brevis.  These muscles that perform internal and external hip rotation should not be forgotten and can be significant in helping you work through some hip/knee/back pain.  We need to make sure we address them if they are tight and then we need to address them because they are weak.  This one exercise my friend Luci showed me is fantastic for hitting all of these muscles.

At Pilates with Luci. This is a great exercise to help activate all those hip rotators and lower abdominal muscles. Go slow. Speed hides weakness!

Talk about feeling some deep hip muscles finally working!  The key is to be able to turn these muscles on and then promote the movement you want them to work through.  Another way you can work these muscles is using a resistance band like this.

Seated hip internal and external rotation exercises are a great way to focus and target muscle necessary for strength and stabilization

Sadly, when we grow up and stop running around crazy, chasing soccer balls and each other on the playground we start losing the ability of our muscles to perform lateral stabilization and movement.  Let’s wake that back up and get some healthy hips!

This has become one of my most favorite exercises because it promotes so many great skills. Mirror feedback is a must.

Just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to do it. This exercise takes time and precise movement. Pay attention to how your body reacts and make it do what you want it to do! Practice doesn’t make perfect. PERFECT practice makes perfect.