Picturing the front hip muscles
Visual pictures can really help with locating the tricky and deep tissues in our body that we cannot see. This is especially so for our recent work in our Pilates classes on the front hip strength and stability.
"Imagine standing on eggshells and your thigh sinking back into your hip."
This is the instruction to help you to activate the deep front hip muscle called 'iliacus'. You can see this muscle in the image. Iliacus is a part of the hip flexor muscles – the ones that lift your leg up in front of you as with walking or lifting each leg to walk up stairs. Psoas major is another of these, and is the stronger of the 2.
Iliacus has a more important role and that is to hold the top of your leg bone or femur securely in the hip socket. Iliacus should do this as the bigger muscle 'movers' go about moving your leg about. It is one of the muscles giving that ball and socket joint a lovely tight fit.
By looking more at the iliacus muscle in this picture, you can almost imagine that as it contracts or shortens (as a muscle does when it activates), it will suck the leg bone up into the pelvis better.
And hence our postural cue above!
So when we do our squats, lunges, and mat work, picture your iliacus gently drawing your femur into your pelvis for a happier and healthier hip. And remember that sometimes we will not feel much happening at all, and quite often this is the goal.
Subtle, subtle! Less is more.