The Hips Simplified

I did a series of posts on my Instagram recently that was well-received. The posts explained the anatomy of the hips in simple terms without using wordy scientific terminology. So here are the posts combined for your learning pleasure! Please let me know if you have any questions!

From the Front

hips from the front

Where is what?

Take a look at the colored dots on the images.
Red: Hip points.
Yellow: Pubic bone.
Blue: Hip joints.
Take time to feel for these in your own body. Everyone is built a little bit differently!

What’s good to know?

Your hip points—the red dots—aren’t actually the highest part of your hips as you can see in the X-ray. The hip points are, however, great directional indicators.

When standing on one leg with the other out to the side like in tree pose, sometimes the hips will shift to get the lifted leg out wider. Think about where your two hip points are facing. If you imagine them like laser pointers, follow the red dots! 😉 This hip shift happens in a lot of yoga poses actually! And it’s certainly not bad or to be “corrected”, just bring some awareness to your own body!

The pubic bone (yellow dot) isn’t actually a solid bone. It is a joint that opens up just a bit during delivery to help get baby out. That also means if that spot is too loose during pregnancy (or in general), you could have pain and instability there. Strengthening by squeezing the legs in while also avoiding wide legged positions and movements could help.

The blue dots are the actual hip joints. 🎼 Where the leg bones connect to the hip bones. 🎶 These joints can move in a TON of different ways but one in particular I want to talk about here is forward folding—bringing the stomach and thighs closer together. When you do forward folds, this joint is where movement starts. There is a point that the back kicks in, so when trying a fold from just the hip joints, you naturally won’t go as far. Again, not good or bad, just awareness!

X-ray courtesy of Dr Matthew Lukies, Radiopaedia.org, rID: 51246

From the Side

hips from the side

Where is what?

Take a look at the colored dots on the images.
Red: Hip points.
Yellow: Pubic bone.
Orange: Sit bones.
Green: Tailbone. May be a bit hard to actually feel the end as it’s kinda in your butt crack and it curves in.

Take time to feel for these in your own body. Everyone is built a little bit differently!

What’s good to know?

The relationship between the hip points and the pubic bone (red and yellow dots) can tell you whether you’re tilting your hips forward or back. If the front of your hips were flat to a wall, and all three touched, your hips are likely what’s considered neutral position. If just the hip points are touching, you’re likely tilting your hips forward, and if just the pubic bone then there’s probably a tilt back.

The orange dot is one side of the sit bones, which are big strong bones made for sitting on! They are the lowest part of your hips. A lot of different muscles attach here, including several of the pelvic floor muscles.

The green dot is your tailbone. There is the tiniest bit of mobility here for, say, a baby to pass through. And often, if you’re seated and slouching, the hips tilt back and you’re putting more weight on this little guy than the big, strong sit bones. That could be the pain in your butt. 😜

So when seated on the ground like we often are in yoga, propping the hips up with a blanket, block, or bolster can help with sitting on the sit bones more accessible and comfortable.

Skeleton image courtesy of Wikipedia

From the Back

Or: Here’s my butt. 😜

hips from the back

Where is what?

Take a look at the colored dots on the images.
Orange: Sit bones.
Green: Tailbone.
Purple with dotted white circle: Back of the hips.

Take time to feel for these in your own body. Everyone is built a little bit differently!

What’s good to know?

When yoga teachers ask to point your tailbone (green dot) in a certain direction (and I’ve done this too!), what it really means is to tilt the hips forward or back. A different way to visualize this is directing the sit bones (orange dots) instead because they’re actually pointing a little more straight down while the tailbone curves inward.

The back of the hips (purple dot) is also referred to as the sacrum. It’s a cool area because it is both the back of the hips and the bottom of the spine. This is where you want to place your block during Restorative Bridge pose, and it’s a great area to apply counter pressure during labor as baby gets further down the birth canal.

This area of the back of the hips is one bone (white dotted circle), and where you see it connected on the sides is a small area of movement much like the pubic bone area. That joint then, just like the pubic bone, could cause pain and discomfort for pregnant and postpartum mamas.

Skeleton image courtesy of Science of Yoga

Movement

Where is what?

For Movement of the hips, I’m not talking about the tiny bit of movement from the pubic bone or the back of the hips I mentioned previously. I’m talking the big movement of the hips, the hip joint. 🎼 Where your leg bones are connected to your hip bones. 🎶 (See From the Front)

What’s good to know?

The way these joints are built allows the hips to move in 6 different ways: In & Out, Up & Back, and Turn In & Out.

It’s great to strengthen in ALL the directions for stability. And fun fact: you can actually move the hip joints in multiple directions at the same time! For example: Up, Out, and Turn Out for the lifted leg in tree pose.


Thank you for reading! Is this information helpful for you? Is there another area of the body you’d like to see next? Let me know and comment below!

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