Hip and Shoulder Stabilization
The general function of exercise, or weight training specifically, is learning to stabilize yourself in order to move weight from point A to point B safely and effectively.
Main reasons for having a goal of stabilization:
- Safety – by learning to stabilize yourself and properly engage muscle groups responsible for moving heavy loads you will be protecting the more vulnerable parts of your body that cannot handle heavy lifting and are prone to strain and injury, such as your knees and lower back.
- Strength – by engaging these larger, more capable muscle groups you are ensuring that they do the brunt of the work and therefore become stronger. This leads to a progressive cycle whereby these muscles are able to move heavier and heavier loads and become even better at protecting vulnerable joints and muscle groups.
- Functional Movement – in the fitness world this term generally means two things: prioritizing spinal stabilization and then initiating movement from the hips and shoulders; and secondly, movements that translate to everyday life. In the simplest terms, learning to properly squat teaches you how to effortlessly get in and out of a chair, and deadlift teaches you how to safely and effectively pick something up.
As you move throughout your day, understanding and prioritizing stabilization will help you keep you pain and injury free. This also includes sitting and standing still.
Purpose behind hip and shoulder stabilization:
Both the hip and shoulder joints are what are referred to as “ball in socket” joints. This joint system allows for tremendous range of motion and an almost unlimited ability to move freely. But with that freedom of movement, also comes with the opportunity for an injury, especially when the joint is loaded or under tension.
Stabilizing the Hip and Shoulder Joints
These ball in socket joints have the capacity for both internal and external rotation within the socket. A result of this impressive range of motion is that it leaves a great deal of slack in the socket in order to allow these movements. In order to prevent injury while these joints are loaded or under tension it becomes necessary to “take the slack” out of the joint; stabilizing and securing it prior to movement.
Cues for stabilizing the hip socket:
- Screw your feet to the floor; right food goes clockwise, left foot goes counter-clockwise
- Imagine there is a crack between your feet and you’re trying to spread it apart.
- Imagine your feet are on plates and you’re trying to spin them out away from you.
It is important to understand the meaning behind these cues:
- Your feet are not actually moving.
- When you say “screw your feet into the floor”, what you are really trying to create is tension in the hip socket through external rotational force of the femur into the pelvis (hip socket) using the floor as resistance.
- Not only does this tension with the floor create a stable hip joint, but the muscle group responsible for externally rotating your leg is your Glutes, the primary divers of your squat, so by initiating this force of external rotation of your hip you activate your Glute muscles and help organize your squat mechanics.
Cues for stabilizing the shoulder socket:
- Break the bar in half
- Screw your hands into the floor
- Draw your shoulder blades down and together
Defining the cues for shoulder stabilziation:
- Your hands are no actually moving and you are not physically trying to break a bar in half.
- The goal is to generate tension in the shoulder socket by attempting to externally rotate the humerus bone into the shoulder socket, using the floor or an object as resistance.
- Your humerus bone connects to your shoulder blade, therefore tension that is created also stabilizes the shoulder blade and activates the Latissimus Dorsi (Lats), a major muscle that attaches to your shoulder blade and is responsible for movement and stabilization within the shoulder system.
Written by: Jamie Maguire
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