The Power of How: A journal about The Alexander Technique and Movement

Engagement, not relaxation, can free tight hips, thighs, and minds

 

Aren’t all of those muscles that flow down our legs beautiful? Still, it can sometimes seem like all they want to do is be tight and pull up into our lower back. Sometimes it can seem like stretching or trying to relax the legs is the solution, but I’ve discovered over a long period of time that my legs actually need to be activated in a very special way for my lower back and hips to be truly free and easy.

Those outer muscles and lower back are tight because the inner thighs aren’t working enough. But you can’t solve the problem with more “doing” because then you will be tightening everywhere! How can we bring about the kind of muscular engagement that is just right, just what is needed for whatever movement we need to do now?

The “problem area” for many is the illiotibial band. The belly of the illiotibial band crosses over the greater trochanter of your femur, or thigh bone, and can get really tight. Runners and dancers especially suffer from this and do all kinds of stretches and rolling on rollers to work this tension out. Here is the spot, the upper red circle:

 

 

 

It is only through activating the inner thigh that we can encourage the outer thigh to release into its full length. This activation of the inner thigh will create a better balance of muscle tone in the legs such that you won’t have to poke and prod into the tissue of the illiotibial band for relief, since over the long run that can cause tissue damage.

This toning of the inner thigh should be in the service of releasing the pelvic floor, lifting the head up over the feet and legs, instead of tightening the neck and pulling the weight of the head down and towards the ground. Connecting the activation of the inner thigh with “releasing up” is the secret. I use the femoral Mobilignment™ points  to activate my inner thighs with ease and fluidity.

First, let me show you the relevant “points” on your femur that you can use to clarify how you use your legs. First, the upper femur points which are at the very tippy top of the femur, in the middle of the femoral head:

Instead of over-efforting, just give a thought of these two points softening towards each other. Softening them towards each other wouldn’t freeze your tailbone. It is just a “spatial thought”. It won’t feel like muscle are working – not in any way that you are familiar with.

Next, take a look at the lower femoral points, which are on the inside knob of the lower femoral points at the inside of the thigh:

And think of these points as well softening towards each other. The activity will be a kind of lively and fluid toning of your inner thighs that actually releases the neck, shoulders, lower back, tailbone, and pelvic floor. Delightful! This kind of fluid and easy tone will also help your balance since toning of the inner thighs brings us more clearly over our feet without bracing.

Just to be clear – you can send these directions in yourself in any position. Your legs could be rotate inwards or outwards in the hip socket. You could be sitting cross legged on the floor, or in a chair. You could be in a yoga asana. It’s not about shape, position, or about “pulling your thighs together,” but the activation of these directions can certainly precede bringing your thighs closer together. The points can soften towards one another, or away from one another.

Here is an image of the muscles that are activating:

 

I will write more in the next newsletter about the implications of this for a deeper mobility of the sitting bones, the lower round rockers of the pelvis (you can see in the illustration that they are below the hip joint) which provide attachments for all of the muscles of the inner thigh. If those two rockers are held stiff or square in relationship to your legs, you will have balance problems and not be able to fully access this magical inner thigh tone. If, however, the sitting bones are free to move even slightly, you will find that all of these femoral points are fluid and gliding in relationship to each other, facilitating easy balance and mobility.

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December 29th, 2020 • No Comments

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