6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Anf's picture
A daft question about hips

Hi all,

I fully appreciate that this is probably a daft question but has anyone ever encountered a fully able body person that can't seem to work their hips?

This is not me by the way. It is someone I train with privately, who is considerably less experienced than I am so I help to train the basics. This person just can't seem to engage their hips. The consequence is that kicks are a bit clunky, blocks tend to be limited in range, and footwork is slower than it could be.

I won't bore you all with all the details, but suffice to say I've pinned the issue down to an apparent lack of ability to consciously recruit the various hip muscles. They obviously do fire, otherwise this individual wouldn't be able to do very much at all, but there's no fine motor control their.

I've tried creating my own exercises to try to isolate the hip related muscles but nothing seems to be working. Nothing is inherently wrong. I think it's a habit thing rather than a physiological problem. Has anyone seen this before? Does anyone know of any exercises that will target this issue?

OhioMike's picture

Sounds a little like low core muscle tone, it is getting caught more in childhood than it used to be, my middle daughter has it. Children compensate for it by standing more stiffly and upright to take the pressure off of the muscles and the result is tight, short muscles in the hips, lower back, and upper legs. Honestly one of the best ways to work on it would be to play soccer (football in the non-us world), or I would buy what we call a kickball, just a heavier duty version of a child's ball and play karate dodge ball (dodge ball with only the legs being used to send the ball at another player). For a child it can be helped by active play in general, especially play that involves jumping and kicking. For an adult you will also have a livetime of learned coping mechanisms to possibly deal with but my suggestion would basically be do the same thing.   

Dennis Krawec
Dennis Krawec's picture

Hard to say; it could just be that the person lacks finer motor control.

One of the dance groups I was with actively recruited adults with no experiance. Most were able to eventually deveop the finer motor control as to perform the steps and present properly as a dancer. One member of almost 15 years, who has contributed outstandingly in other areas of the group, even after all this time, still has very choppy movements. They have improved over time, but about as far as they can.

That said, it could very well be that the person has an undiagnosed condition or one that may not fully present itself until later in life. From my own experience, I have always lacked a full range of hip motion compared to others regardless how hard or often I stretched. At best a front kick or battement would reach to high chest level, never higher. As I aged this slowly degraded. Diagnosed at 46, I’ve finally had one hip replacement, and am looking forward to having the other done. I am looking forward to actively studying Karate again, and taking my daughter with me to see if I can get her hooked on it.

The question now may become how do you adapt karate to your individual abilities.

Neil Babbage
Neil Babbage's picture

I covered a related field in a small piece of research I did as part of a sports science research project. In that case it was looking a increased injury risk in the lower body caused by muscular activation changes (i.e., using muscles differently to "normal people") that result from restricted hip flexor muscle length. While it is impossible to diagnose by forum, short hip flexors may be their problem and there's almost certainly no harm done by introducing hip flexor stretching exercises into their warm up / cool down routine and it tends to help people kick higher as well. Start gently, be careful, etc.

PASmith's picture

I like the exercise in this video.


I do a warm up from time to time using belts as a training tool (mainly using them as a line on the floor to jump over and do various footwork drills around) where I do this exercise at the end (with the belt hanging) to get people using their hips and being conscious of how to move them and be more "aware" of them. Some people get it much easier than others and I think proprioception varies quite a bit from person to person. Especially when being aware of parts of the body inwards from the hands and feet.

Anf's picture

Thanks all. I will try to formulate a training plan based on the advice herein.