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Fact checked by Kirsten Yovino, CPT Brookbush InstituteFACT CHECKED
November 20, 2022
Hip internal rotation is a movement pattern that isn't talked about very often, which is unfortunate considering it's a very important part of human performance and overall health. And while we may not think about it much, we perform it every day.
Making a point to include hip internal rotation exercises in your program is vital for injury prevention and performance improvement.
Neglecting to will bring the opposite, causing an increase in hip problems and sub-optimal function. This article will go over what you need to know about hip internal rotation, as well as provide the best stretches and exercises.
This post will discuss:
Hip internal rotation is a fundamental movement pattern. It occurs when the angle of the hip joint turns inward. This commonly associated movement pattern can occur in two different ways:
Having a healthy internal rotation range of motion is vital for everyday movements. You use it for everything from walking to running to HIIT, and even for basic movements like putting on your pants.
If you suffer from limited hip mobility with poor hip internal rotation, other joints must compensate for these excess rotational forces. This extra work usually goes to the knee and the result is never good. In addition, poor hip strength can also lead to lumbar spine pain.
As all the force is placed on a joint in a way it was not designed for, tendons and ligaments can be torn as well as dislocated. In fact, weak hips are a common culprit of knee pain.
Further, the hip muscles need to possess not only mobility but adequate levels of strength as well to support the body in this position. This means hip strengthening exercises are crucial.
This is especially true for athletes who play sports that require speed and agility, such as football or MMA. Any action that requires cutting movements will need high levels of hip strength or else the injury risk is dramatically increased.
Hip external rotation occurs in the exact opposite direction of internal rotation. Hip external rotation occurs when the thigh bone rotates outward so the knee points out.
At first thought, it may seem as those this opposing movement pattern is just that, opposing. However, these sets of muscles, known as agonist and antagonist muscles, are seen throughout the body. An example is the triceps and biceps.
Even though they generate movement in the opposite direction, it's this opposing force that helps control movement and creates stability.
If you have ever pushed on a screen door with a broken hinge and had it fly open, you know how important it is to have an opposing force to control the movement pattern.
The hip joint is an extremely complex and crucial joint. In fact, the entire body relies on the hip joint in some form.
Of course every joint is important but if your shoulder is bad, you can't move your arm. If your hips are destroyed, you can't walk. This is because this bone structure is what connects the lower extremity to the entire body. It also allows the movement of your legs to provide locomotion.
The term "hips" actually refers to the region of the body on the outside of the thighs. In fact, apart from the hip joint, there isn't an actual hip bone.
The actual "hip bone" is known as the pelvic girdle, or pelvis for short, and it sits at the base of the spine. It is composed of various bones and attaches the spine to the legs.
The lower body connects to the pelvis by way of the thigh bone, or femur. There is a large bulb at the top of the femur, known as the head, and a boney structure known as the greater trochanter, which sits on the opposite side and slightly below.
On both sides of the pelvis lies a deep concaved section known as the acetabulum. The large head of the femur inserts into this acetabulum to make the hip joint.
Similar to external rotation, all of the hip muscles play a role in normal hip internal rotation.
Whether it's by directly rotating the thigh bone, acting as a synergist muscle, or merely acting as a stabilizer muscle, most of the 21 hip muscles are involved in some manner.
That said, the main internal rotation hip muscles are as follows:
The secret to successfully improving hip internal rotation mobility and strength? A combination of internal hip rotation stretches to improve mobility to the internal rotation hip muscles and exercises to build strength. Let's get into the best stretches and exercises, so you can see your hip internal rotation improve.
Stretching is an effective and low-impact method to loosen your hips and prepare your body for performance.
If you have excessively tight hips, you need to stretch them out to increase hip mobility. Here are the best exercises to improve and increase hip internal rotation.
The hip internal rotator stretch is the simplest one to perform on this list. It simply puts you in a position where you can easily apply pressure to loosen up the internal rotators of hip muscles.
How to do the Hip Internal Rotation Stretch:
Hip Internal Rotation Stretch Demo on YouTube
This is a great exercise to put into any dynamic warm-up regardless if you have an affected hip or not. It mimics internal rotation in a dynamic manner which not only activates the internal hip rotators but also allows you to work through the entire internal rotation and external rotation range of motion.
Start by standing near something for balance and support. As your hip mobility improves, you can move toward doing this movement with no support.
How to do the Dynamic Internal Hip Rotation & External Rotation Stretch:
Dynamic Internal Hip Rotation and External Rotation Demo on YouTube
The hip lateral glide is a great hip mobilization exercise. It strengthens the internal rotators by creating an isometric contraction to fight the lateral opening. Creating a direct force that demands internal rotation is tough but the lateral guide does the job.
You'll want to use a resistance band for this exercise.
How to do the Hip Lateral Glide:
Hip Lateral Glide Demo on YouTube
Strengthening the hips is without a doubt the best way to prevent injuries, maintain function, and increase performance. While the hip mobilization and stretches above can help maintain healthy hip joints, strengthening them will make them resilient.
The first exercise is a variation of the wall sit. The standard wall sit is great for strengthening the entire hip region. However, adding the medicine ball demands greater muscle activation from the internal rotators as well as the adductors.
Remember, these muscles work closely together.
How to do the Medicine Ball Wall Sit:
Wall Sit With Medicine Ball Demo on YouTube
The single-leg deadlift is an awesome hip hinge movement that strengthens the entire hip joint. We love unilateral exercises for the lower extremity as they improve mobility, strength, and function of the hip while increasing internal rotation of hip muscles.
Since standing on one leg allows a larger range of motion while creating greater muscle activation in the stabilizers, this exercise is great for improving internal rotation of the hip.
How to do the Single-Leg Deadlift with Hip Internal Rotation:
Single-Leg Deadlift With Hip Internal Rotation Demo on YouTube
Along with being one of the greatest exercises to improve strength in the lower body, the squat also improves total hip mobility and hip function, while increasing internal rotation of hip muscles.
You can use just bodyweight for this, or for an extra stimulus on the internal rotators, you can add a resistance band.
How to do Squats:
Most people don't need to specifically concentrate on hip internal rotation exercises unless they have obvious issues with hip mobility or tight hips.
To be clear, this doesn't mean don't perform internal rotation exercises, it just means you don't need a dedicated session. In fact, the general healthy public probably only needs to include one internal rotation-specific exercise a week.
Again, this is in conjunction with your normal workout split, which should include other exercises that train the hip musculature, such as squats and deadlifts.
The primary focus of these big movements is hip flexion and extension, but the internal rotators are still working.
As a result, the moves are sufficient for general strength. You can then add some exercises with specific hip rotation movement patterns to ensure hip mobility and strength through a wide range of motion. Hip internal rotation exercises should be done twice a week.
If you do have tight hips, adding specific hip training into your program 2-3 times a week is a good idea. This should include stretches, mobility work, and strength training.
After a few weeks of specifically training hip internal rotation, you should feel your hips loosening up. However, if your hips continue to have issues, you may need some professional advice or physical therapy.
Your hips are vital for ensuring your body is mobile, flexible, and athletic. So much of daily life relies on proper function and hip mobility that a damaged hip will drastically reduce your quality of life and increase injury risk. This is especially true as we get older.
Of course, we want our readers to aim for setting PRs on the bench press and building muscle. At the same time, we want you to be smart lifters and include some hip mobility work in your routine.
As true with all injuries, it's significantly easier to maintain a healthy body than it is to repair a broken one.
As you've seen, ensuring you include just a few internal hip rotation exercises makes having healthy hips easy.
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