In one of my last workshops we looked at the anatomy of the hip and discussed some of the risks involved in over-opening this joint. It is rare for many folks to think of the hips as having hypermobility, but in the case of advanced practitioners who work diligently at excessive extension and extreme external rotation in this joint, laxity is a common result. There are also some people who have naturally hypermobile hips, and to avoid long term degeneration, intentional stabilizing is integral to maintaining the health of these joints.
Too much length in the ligaments that hold the joint together, coupled with a lack of direct strengthening of stabilizer muscles may result in degeneration of cartilage tissues and eventually bone. These conditions are very painful and can have referral pain patterns into the sacrum, low back, groin, thigh and IT band. In the most extreme cases, hip replacement surgery will be necessary.
In order to avoid hypermobility, we should avoid stretching directly into the ligaments that hold the bones together. We can stretch the deep fascia and muscle fibers to create better pliability and enhance our range of motion without impacting the stability of the joint. For those who are naturally lax, it’s important to focus some of your asana practice on strengthening the intrinsic muscles of stability to compensate for the long ligaments.
The video I have inserted below illustrates the surgical procedure in beautiful detail, showing exactly what a patient will experience in the case of an Anterior Hip Replacement. While this is done in computer illustration, it is still a powerful representation and may be too graphic for some viewers. I recommend caution in viewing for yourself. I do believe, however, that a more accurate understanding of the potential consequences of our actions in practice, may guide us toward a slower, more observant practice on our mat.
I would love your feedback on this post, as I plan to use more material of this sort in my quest to open up the world of anatomy and physiology to my community of heartfelt asana practitioners.