Hip disassociation is a common theme across many Pilates exercises. We as instructors can often be heard asking clients to “isolate the movement to the hip joint” or to “reach out of the hip socket.” How many clients are really absorbing from that directive what we really mean? How many clients even know what that hip joint feels like in isolation? Hopefully more than a few, but to really illustrate this for your clients, especially those with less body awareness, try out this simple movement before you get them started on hip disassociation exercises.
With the client lying in a prone position, forehead on mat, arms long by the sides and legs straight and long on the floor, ask the client to prepare for the exercise by engaging through the abdominals and feeling the tripod of the hip and pubic bones pressing firmly into the mat. Begin the exercise by lifting one leg, keeping it as straight and as long as possible, until it is separated from the
mat from toe to upper thigh. Next, ask the client to begin rotating the leg in the hip socket, journeying from internal rotation to external rotation and back again, as if turning a key in a lock. Continue this movement for a count of 5 or 10 seconds before returning to a neutral leg position and returning it to the floor. Repeat on the other leg. Remind the client that through this movement, the goal is still length through the leg – always reaching for the wall beyond.
For added challenge, you can ask the client to float both legs off the mat and rotate them simultaneously. Another option is to add thoracic extension to this exercise by maintaining moderate height through the chest (to the base of the sternum) and lifting the arms off the floor while executing the rotation. And finally, create a coordination challenge to the last variation by adding internal and external rotation of the shoulder to match the hips. Again, always reaching long through the extremities.