Massage & Bodywork

March/April 2012

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technique BODYREADING THE MERIDIANS | @WORK | ESSENTIAL SKILLS | MYOFASCIAL TECHNIQUES By Til LuchauWorking with Hip Mobility When I was a student at the Rolf Institute in the 1980s, I heard a story about its founder, Ida Rolf, which underlined the importance of pelvic mobility in her work. According to the story, Rolf would regularly quiz her trainees about the aims of each of her 10 sessions, or "hours." She reportedly asked her classes questions such as, "What is the goal of the fifth hour?" As a demanding teacher, very few answers would satisfy her; but even though each session was different, she reportedly accepted the answer "free the pelvis" as a correct one, no matter which session she would ask about. While this story probably has an 1 The iliofemoral, pubofemoral, and ischiofemoral ligaments limit hip motion. Infants have more hip flexion as a result of their position in utero. Image courtesy Primal Pictures; used by permission. element of folklore to it (since her death in 1979, many "Ida stories" have assumed the status of legend in the structural integration community), it illustrates the key role that pelvic adaptability at the hip joints played in her vision of an integrated body. Rolf referred to the hip's relationship to the pelvis as "the joint that determines symmetry." She wasn't alone in emphasizing the key role of the hips; balanced hip-joint mobility is important in fields as diverse as athletics, dance, geriatrics, and back-pain management. I became even more curious about the relationship of the low back to hip-joint mobility when I went to Japan to teach and practice manual therapy, a few years after graduating from the Rolf Institute. I noticed challenges to my own hip mobility as I adjusted to the Japanese practice of sitting on floor cushions more often than chairs. I noticed considerably more hip mobility (especially external rotation) in my Japanese clientele than I had seen in my American and European clients. My Japanese clients also seemed to have generally flatter spinal curves. Were these related? Conventional wisdom maintains that freer hips means happier backs, and research both in Japan1 United States2 and in the generally supports this. In this brief article, I'll describe three techniques for assessing and balancing hip-joint mobility, taken from Advanced-'s Advanced Myofascial Techniques DVD and seminar series. PUSH BROOM "A" TECHNIQUE The "Push Broom" series is an effective way to increase hip-joint mobility without undue effort or strain by the practitioner. Using gravity, we'll take the hip through three positional techniques that will release all the structures of the hip joint: from the deep iliofemoral ligaments (Image 1), to the iliopsoas, hamstrings, hip abductors and adductors, rotators, sartorius, quadriceps, and their enveloping fascias. The term push broom refers to the starting grip: hold your prone client's leg at the ankle and knee as if holding the handle of a push broom (Image 3). Swing the knee outward as you walk the leg up into full hip flexion, bringing the knee as far toward the head as comfortably possible. Rolling the pelvis away from you as you bring the knee up will make it easier to flex the hip past the 90-degree point. With almost all clients, it will be more comfortable if you take the leg past this 90-degree position so that the femur is close to the side of the 114 massage & bodywork march/april 2012

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