What are some ways to teach a client to disassociate between the leg and the pelvis? For example, I have a few clients who always associate hip flexion with a posterior tilt of the pelvis. I am struggling to teach them to disassociate these movements. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!
I remember having the very same challenges with the clients and athletes I trained. It seemed as though every movement that was supposed to involve the hip drove the lower back to move too much. Our industry’s conventional wisdom, dubious at best, speaks of how to instruct a client to keep the low back and pelvis still while moving the hips (thus, “disassociating the hip from the pelvis”).
Well, we may not need to struggle with this as much as we think. I will offer some easy and effective solutions to this often frustrating issue.
Firstly, we must understand the working relationships of the body. The body is fundamentally built on the premise of Pre-Stress – the internal mechanical stress of the body prior to the application of external force. Think of a bicycle wheel. It is constantly under its own tension, and this tension serves to stabilize and strengthen it. Break one spoke, and the wheel as a whole loses its effectiveness and often falls apart.
Thus, because of Pre-Stress, it is clearly impossible to isolate one link in our chain from another. What we must endeavor to do is mobilize the hips to mitigate stress on the low back. Let’s remember four factors for movement:
- Bony Structures
- Soft Tissue (Ligament/fascia). I normally combine this with the muscle and speak of the myofascial elements.
- Neural Patterning (afferent/efferent coordination) or timing
With individuals, we must address ALL of these four factors if we hope to see success.
It sounds as though your client is having difficulty in the sagittal plane (through hip flexion). I would recommend the following:
- Bony Structures - Check the feet to ensure there is a visible medial arch. If collapsed, try the following exercise: Balance Hold 1 Leg - w/ Leg Anterior Reach. For this exercise, reduce the range of motion – and do not be in a rush to extend the range of motion.
- Muscles/Soft Tissue/Neural Patterning - Train the client in the frontal plane to mobilize the hips. This creates a synergistic reaction in the hip flexors (such as the TFL) and the hip extensors (such as the glutes). Try the following exercise. It addresses the myofascial elements and the timing of lumbo pelvic hip rhythm (in the frontal plane): Sideways Hip Flick w/DB. Use light dumbbells and maintain a rhythmical pattern of motion.
Remember, this answer is only a set of guidelines. Each client will exhibit individuality in structure and movement. Assess each client in earnest and alter your exercises appropriately.
Good luck and have fun!