Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-Pivot Your Way To Better Hips!-

Ah...the glorious hip pivot!

Ah...the glorious hip pivot!

Sometimes I feel like I repeat myself…okay, so I feel I do that a lot!  Call it what you will, I call it “getting the point across.”  There are a few subjects with which this is the case, one of which is the glorious phenomenon of the hip pivot.

Why devote an entire post to this subject?

I could devote several posts to this subject.

Trainers – all of your clients need to do exercises that incorporate the hip pivot action.

Exercise enthusiasts – all of you need to do exercises that incorporate the hip pivot action.

Does that make my point clear enough?

Okay, then…here we go with the “hip pivot nugget of gold” for today.

Why do I feel so strong about the hip pivot?  First off, most people have less-than-stellar hip mobility. Most people have tight external rotators of the hip. Do this for me: stand up and walk a few paces, then stop.  Look down at your feet.  Are they turned out?  A clue that you might have this common issue is that your feet externally rotate.  Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal.  Most of my clients initially present with this compensation, which is indicative of tight Soleus/Biceps Femoris/Piriformis and weak Glute Medius.  You don’t have to be a fitness genius to realize that if you want to promote balance, you must “calm down” & stretch the tight areas and “fire up” the weak ones.  There are many ways to do this for the areas listed, but the action of hip pivoting should not be left out of the equation.

You see, when you perform a hip pivot, not only are you actively driving the pivot leg into internal rotation, you are also driving the stationary hip into internal rotation.  This action “fires up” the glutes and provides a dynamic stretch of the tight hip external rotators.  It’s a win-win!

Here’s a rundown of a corrective strategy:

  1. Tiger Tail for Soleus/Gastrocs
  2. Straight-Leg Hamstring Stetch (assisted or with rope) for Hams
  3. Static Piriformis Stretch
  4. Bridge Variation (for Glute Max, which most likely is also weak)
  5. Miniband Lateral Walks for Glute Medius
  6. Medicine Ball Pivot Rotations for total-body integration and emphasis on hip internal rotation
Crappy picture quality, but check out my pivot!

Crappy picture quality, but check out my pivot!

Bottom line:

The “lost art” of pivoting must be rediscovered!


Til next time, get started and keep on pivoting!

Yours in Health,



9 responses

  1. jamieatlas

    Great post sarah – movement with pivot is very important for all of us. You have done a great job of outlining the role of the hip in function – when you get greater hip rotation & activation you can use more muscle more effectively and efficiently. The end result of improved hip movement ability is greater calorie output with less muscle soreness – and who doesn’t want that?!

    Not to get too nerdy, but I also find that if I address clients that have high arches then your pivot movement pattern drill helps even more, as the by increasing the external rotation capacity of the hips, you allow greater internal rotation at standing/walking which gives the high arch a chance to flatten out since it is not being held in an externally rotated postion by the tight glute external rotators of the hip. Phew! ok, nerd-begone 🙂

    July 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    • Hey Jamie!

      Oh, my…gosh…now you’ve got my brain clunking along…I am diggin’ what you shared regarding high arches and the pivot pattern! You are such a nerd! I love it! I have a few clients with high arches and I have NEVER thought about this! Thanks so much for yet again shedding some amazing light on stuff I get excited about!

      Okay, so we’re both nerds!

      Yours in Health,

      PS – I checked out your post about your Red Rocks Bootcamp and it looks awesome! Great pics and i’m sure a great time for all!

      July 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  2. Hey Sarah! Great post!

    As an unofficial spokesperson for those of us who were around for the 1st Woodstock (40 years ago…) hip mobility is critical. Whether you’re in your 30s, 40s, 50s or (gulp) 60s, flexible hips are “worth their weight in walkers”.

    Also important for most sports, especially ones like boxing (can’t throw a hook without a good pivot) and Aikido. (your power comes from your hips/legs/lower body movement…), two “activities” close to my heart…

    Use it or lose it, folks…once it’s gone, it’s tough to get back.

    My 2 cents, Rip.


    July 1, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    • Fred,

      Your $0.02 is most obviously welcome around these parts! You brought up a great point, and it’s one that Wayne (@MasterBoozer) and I were talking about yesterday on Twitter. The Martial Arts are amazing. Bodyweight all the way, folks, bodyweight all the way.

      Everyone is so worried about low back pain, but most do not know that the HIPS are most often a big culprit! Get that hip mobility back and it’s amazing what happens!

      Yours in Health,

      July 2, 2009 at 1:29 pm

  3. Hi Sarah – I’m not a trainer, just someone in training and I just found your site – love it! This post really struck a cord with me because I typically have tight/sore hip flexors and experience low back pain after my long runs on the weekend. I think I’ll need to add some pivots to my workouts right away! Thanks!

    July 8, 2009 at 5:19 am

    • Hi Renae!

      Thank you! So happy you’re diggin’ my stuff! 🙂 Improving your hip mobility will help! Also, are you doing any self-myofascial release? I just got some therapy balls and have been using them with clients as well as myself. I feel you can get in better on the hip flexors than with the foam roller, and there are three sizes (smallest is more targeted b/c of less surface area). I will be talking about them soon in a post!

      Yours in Health,

      July 14, 2009 at 1:12 pm

  4. Pingback: Renal cell carcinoma » Blog Archive » Foot type

  5. hello love, what is “1.Tiger Tail for Soleus/Gastrocs” Cannot find Tiger tail anywhere 😉

    April 23, 2010 at 3:55 am

    • Perform Better! 😀

      June 12, 2010 at 9:50 am

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