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Tips for Your Hips

Tips for Your Hips

Text and Graphics: Frey Faust


An examination of the dangers of standard training methods for dancers


Preface
I believe that am a living example of the geometrical clarity that the study of Ballet offers to the dancer. However, I did not get this clarity by forcing my bones together, pinching my muscles and nerves and wrenching my knees to approximate deal lines.

I dont want to condemn the Classical vocabulary. My intention is to suggest a continued update of training methods based on empirical evidence supported by scientific research.

A Little Story
I was very unlucky to have been initially trained by a Ballet teacher who
s complete ignorance of anatomical alignment sent me to the operating table.

Fortunately, when I got to NY after the OP, Ballet teacher Janet Panetta helped me recuperate and showed me how to respect my limitations while absorbing the classical vocabulary.

My own approach to teaching movement was very much inspired by Ms. Panettas ideas. As I traveled, I was shocked to see that little of what she teaches has been integrated in the way Ballet is taught the world over.

Ms. Panetta does not use anatomical terms to explain why her placement principles function, but the fact remains that they do.

My work has been to confirm or update these principles through an intensive study of bio-mechanics and anatomy.

I am not presenting this article as a definitive statement. I am offering my 38 years of accumulated know-how and the results of constant research in the hope that the dance community will join me in a serious effort to understand the ramifications of standard classical training methods for current and future generations of dancers to come.

Hip-Joint Function: A Brief Summary
The structural function of the hip-joint has some in-built parameters. When you bring your knee up to the front, you will recruit the FLEXORS, the muscles that support this motion.

The flexors are set up to send the thigh to the side and simultaneously turn the leg out as it swings up and front. This pathway will prevent the thigh-bone (femur) from pressing towards the frontal pelvic promontory. These same muscles inhibit turn-out as the leg starts to swing to the back. There are also thick-set ligaments in the hip-joint that pull the leg inwards as it goes back.

The backwards urn-in prevents the thigh-bone (trocantor major) from pressing towards the sitz-bone (ischium) and the sciatic nerve. After the sciatic nerve and the ischium have been cleared, the flexors and hip-joint ligaments support the extension and outwards rotation of the thigh-bone (femur).

To the Barre
At best, your ballet teacher will often tell you to turn out from the hips, not the feet, lifting the Pubis up and to the front. You will also often be asked to try to turn the legs out symmetrically whether they are front or back.

While it is true the tucking the Pubis up and front gives you a few millimeters more room to open the thigh, the bones are still pressing towards each other, pinching the deep rotators while fighting the natural function of the flexors and hip-joint ligaments in their roles as inhibitors to outwards rotation during extension.

Here is the good news: If you tip the Pelvis forwards as your leg goes back, you allow the thigh-bone to clear the sitz-bone and can then recruit the flexors as passive assistants to n du-hors.

If you can find this S-shaped pathway on your way to arabesque, you will very likely experience immediate relief and substantially increased motion range.

For second position, if the leg is sent straight up and to the side with no forward arc, the Trocantor Major quickly encounters the side of the pelvis, squeezing the muscle attachments and forcing the hip to rise in a typical og over the hydrant position.

Once again, this stress can be avoided if the bones are slid past each other. You can send your leg on a slight diagonal to the front as you lift it, arcing out and back. This motion will recruit the flexors as your Trocanter Major clears the Pelvic structures, give you a clear line and the potential to hold your leg higher with less discomfort.

Verticality
A pervasive idea in the standard Barre is the notion of vertical. Sometimes this idea can provoke an exaggerated attempt to flatten the spinal curves.

Needless to say, the loss of the curves can create the conditions for some nasty diseases.

Just as obviously, over-extension is as dangerous.

Turning the Pubis up and forwards tends to straighten the lower back while tightening the abdominal muscles and the ham-strings. This situation places a great deal of pressure on the forward edges of the spinal discs.

If you pull the pubis up and forwards, turning your thighs out, the hip-bones are brought close to the ischium and the lower back will flatten. There will be an accompanying tendency for the knees to be forced inwards when they bend.

When you land from a jump, insisting on this position, you could inflict some serious damage.

Chronic pain is a definite sign that limitations are not being respected.

It is important for each student to enter into a dialogue with their teacher, to examine and work with their own spinal range in an effort to avoid injury.

It is just as important for each teacher to continually update their information sources and anatomical understanding, in order to be able to respond to the specific needs and limitations of their students.

Even if I have not convinced you, the dancers and dance teachers of the world, I sincerely hope this article will at least cause you to investigate the issue for yourself. Our collaborative effort could spare us all a great deal of pain and expensive treatments, as well as allowing young artists to mature while adding decades to their careers.

Yours very truly
Frey Faust

NOTE

We are all born with slightly different angles in the bones!

Sometimes a person will have more room to turn out because the hip bone (trocantor major) is set farther front, but even these folks will have the same general function parameters.

 

TECHNICAL ANALYSIS OF HIP PARAMETERS

Pelvic Extension
Pelvic Extension is a standard medical term used to describe the position or motion of swinging the Pubis up and forwards, while the Wings of the Iliac fall back and down.


The muscles that accomplish this position are: frontal stomach muscle Rectus Abdomnalis, as well as the hip-extensors or ham-strings: Biceps Femoris, Semi-Tendonosus, Semi-Membranosus


The first and most obvious red flag for P.E. is the accompanying loss of the Lumbar curve. Straightening the curve places uneven impact from incoming ground-shock forces on the front edge of the spinal discs and separates the vertebral joint surfaces.

Herniation or rupture of the discs, impingement of the Central Nervous System, Sciatica, difficult digestion and breathing problems have been associated with habitual loss of the Lumbar curve during motion.


The spinal discs are built to torque and release the stored kinetic energy like springs when pressure is applied evenly. This fact implies that the front of the spine requires less tension on it than the back, to allow for rebound.


My assumption is supported by the difference in the size and sheer number of muscles systems available to stabilize the curve and flex the hips, as opposed to the above listed extensors.


Among these systems are the most important muscles in the body concerning posture; starting with the Infra-vertebral muscles (too many to mention here!), Longissimus Dorsei, illio-Costalis Dorsei, Spinalis Dorsei, Sacro-Spinalis, Serratus Posterior, lower Trapezius, Quadratus Lumborum, Multifidus, the Latissimus Dorsei and most importantly of ALL, the Illio-Psoas.


The Psoas, called variably undament, or дrunk of the body, intersects with the Trapezius at its origin: the 12th Thoracic vertebra, flows across to fill out the inner surface of the Iliac Wings and finally attach to the Trocanter Minor. P.E stretches the Psoas taught, shoving the edge of the superior Pubic Ramus against the Psoas-Tendon.


A muscle loses a good deal of its contractile potential when it is stretched to a mere 6th of its neutral length. You might also know that when a muscle is pinched either at its origin or near its attaching point, it will also lose contractile potential.
If the Psoas is as fundamental to our posture as everyone says, it is a highly questionable habit to remove its support by over-stretching or pinching it off anywhere. P.E. plus a pure external femoral rotation does both.


P.E. brings the Pelvis into a position that no longer needs to recruit the main stabilizers of the Femur: Gemellus inferior and superior, the Gluteus group plus the Periformis and Perineus. The anteversion of the Acetabular cups expose the femoral heads to the rigid edge of the superior Acetabular lip, adding to the instability of this joint.

I think I do not need to illustrate the possible consequences of losing hip stability... except to site a few of the most common hip pathologies in the occidental world today, Dyplasmia, Osteoporosis and another extremely common nervous disorder, Sciatica. These diseases are alternately traceable to faulty hip mechanics. Habitual Pelvic Extension added to femoral external rotation will stand high on my list of culprits.

Hip Ligament Function
There are three ligaments that steer the Femur first inwards, then outwards as it extends. The Ischio-Femoral Ligament originates on the posterior Acetabular Lip, wrapping forwards attach to the superior edge of the Trocanter Major. The or Illio-Femoral ligament originates on the Spinus Iliacus Minor, sending one tough strut to the anterior lip of the Trocantor Major, the other to the superior-anterior Femoral Shaft. The last is the Pubo-Femoral Ligament, originating on the superior Pubic Ramus and feathering in behind the second strut of the Y-Ligament.


All of these ligaments inhibit the outward swing of the Femur at mid hip-extension and turn the Femur out at full hip-extension.


It is not the only factor inhibiting outwards rotation, but the fact that the FIRST governing system that evolution has placed on the Femoro-Acetabular joint is a PASSIVE inhibition to outwards rotation during hip extension should raise at least a few eyebrows.


The systems for both passive and active inhibition serve to help first the Trocantor major, then the Trocantor Minor clear the Ischium on their way to the back. The given mechanics of these systems are refuted when the legs are turn out while the hip is extended.


P.E. plus a pure outwards rotation brings the hook of the Trocanter Major to bear on the Spinus Ischium, the origin of the Gemellus rotator-muscles, the Biceps-Femoris and Semitendonosus.


Do you remember the tip about pinched muscles...? They lose their contractile power. Do you remember what muscle attaches to the Trocantor Minor? You are right! The Illio-Psoas!


A pure vertical axis rotation with P.E. brings the nub of the Trocantor minor to bear on the origin of the rotator Obturatus Externus. This means that almost half of the main rotators of the hip-joint, plus the main-stay for posture in the lower back (the Psoas), lose their ability to support sudden weight changes in the classical first position. The Sciatic nerve passes between the posterior femoral shaft and the Ischium, this nerve can easily be impinged on in the above situation.


Landing from a jump with the femur turned out plus P.E is an invitation to disaster. The bones structures are so close together that they can easily wreak havoc on the surrounding muscles.

The Relative Rigidity of the Hip-joint structures
P.E.+ outwards rotation of the hips pulls the Femoral head half out of the anteverted Acetabular Cup, exposing the anterior side. This means that the lever-bar of the Collum Femoris is out of the Lode-line.
The Femoral head is soft and in this position the rigid edge of the Acetabular lip presses down on it's cartilaginous surface, eventually creating depressions or lesions.

With the Pelvis extended, a pure femoral rotation moves the Trocanter Major on a collision course with the Spine of the Ischium, while the Trocanter Minor presses towards the inferior Ischio-Pubal Ramus. The Spine of the Ischium is the origin of rotators Gemellus. Lower down you will find the ham-strings, Semi-Tendonosus, Semi-Membranosus, Biceps Femoris. The inferior Ramus of the Ischium and the Pubis is the origin of the Adductor Magnus and both Obturators.
Уucking The pelvis can give another half centimeter of room, but the intervening presence of muscles and bones make it a tight squeeze.

Kathleen M. Kautzen and Joseph Hamil, in their comprehensive tests of motion parameters in the hip, noted that there is a substantial increase of rotational range when the pelvis is flexed.

Turning the Pubis up and forwards tends to straighten the lower back while tightening the abdominal muscles and the ham-strings. This situation places a great deal of pressure on the forward edges of the
spinal discs.

If you pull the pubis up and forwards, turning your thighs out, the hip-bones are brought close to sitz bones and the lower back will flatten. There will be an accompanying tendency for the knees to be forced inwards when they bend.

When you land from a jump, insisting on this position, you could inflict some serious damage.Chronic pain is a definite sign that limitations are not being respected.

It is important for each student to enter into a dialogue with their teacher, to examine and work with their own spinal range in an effort to avoid injury.

 

 

Frey Faust

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                  

 

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