The muscles around our hips play a huge role in supporting our bodies every day. They make us efficient and strong functionally, but sometimes they don’t get a lot of credit compared to other parts our body that we may focus on instead. Hip muscles including the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, tensor fascia latae, and piriformis are just four of many muscles that work together in beautiful coordination around the pelvis and hip. At athenafit, these muscles are worked throughout the class but are specifically targeted in floor seat work.
When muscles around the hip are weak, pain and instability may not be felt in the hip area directly, but in the low back or knee! Oftentimes the hips will have referred pain to these other areas of the body. Runners may experience chronic knee pain and have relief with hip strengthening exercises. Dancers may have back pain, even though they have a strong core, if the hip muscles are not strong. Women are especially affected with sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction and strengthening hip musculature is a huge component to rehabilitation of pain felt in the lower back and sacral regions.
Even if you are not experiencing low back or knee pain, it’s always a good idea to prevent future pain by focusing on these muscles and working hard in your barre seat work on the floor! There’s such a tendency to want to rest and take a break during floor-based exercises, but this is a time when you can focus and isolate movements at the hips. Many of the “side lying” exercises directly target hip abductors, external rotators, and extensors. Not only do the side lying exercises help make your favorite tights fit perfectly, they strengthen the muscle fibers that support you in walking, running, dancing, lifting, and “barring.”
Muscles can adapt to the stresses placed on them. That’s one reason it’s so fabulous that the floor seat work exercises change and rotate from class to class. More hip extension fibers are being challenged in mat exercises where you are lying on your stomach and lifting your seat to the ceiling, whereas the external rotator fibers are worked in positions with your knee coming up and out. The options and modifications are endless at the barre. With a band or ball, the resistance may be increased to make the exercise even more challenging. All of these strength gains complement the body’s mechanics and distribute forces place on your body daily!
Shakira has sung many times that “Hips Don’t Lie,” but weak hips often lie to us about where the pain and dysfunction is coming from, and we may not think to fit in seat work daily. However, it is so important to strengthen the hip musculature for even every day activities. Whether you are 20 or 80, having strong hips only make for stronger more efficient bodies!