Hip Release for Core Stability Challenge

Hip release is not an original Pilates exercise. It was introduced to me when I studied STOTT PILATES. In the STOTT matwork, hip release is part of the warm-up. Personally, I really like this exercise because it’s an appropriate level of work for the psoas, plus it challenges the abdominals.

We use our abdominals to stabilize our rib cage, spine, and hips. Then, once we can stabilize, we challenge the strength of the abdominals by moving an arm or a leg. In the case of hip release, we are moving one leg and are also including the challenge of lateral rotation at the hip joint.

Pay particular attention to your form when you work in lateral rotation. For whatever reason, I have found that that is when people lose their form and the abdominals quit stabilizing.

Hip Release

  1. Begin on your back with your knees bent, heels in line with your SITs bones.
  2. Make sure you are in neutral with your arms by your sides.
  3. We will use Pilates breathing.
  4. Before you begin, think about how you’re using your abdominals to connect your rib cage to your pelvis. The whole time you do this exercise, your rib cage and pelvis should stay stable.
  5. hip releaseInhale, and open your right knee to the side. Make sure that you use your muscles to open the leg in a controlled way. Slide your leg, which is now laterally rotated, out so it is straight.
  6. Exhale, and rotate your leg to parallel. Bend your knee to return to starting position. If you are working on SI joint issues, you can medially rotate your leg instead of rotating it to parallel. For most people, it’s more appropriate for the leg to rotate to parallel.
  7. Do 3 repetitions this way, then reverse the sequence.
  8. Inhale, and slide your leg out straight. Laterally rotate it so that your kneecap faces out to the side. Don’t work too hard to do this. It should feel like a nice, natural rotation from the hip.
  9. Okay, this is a tricky part so really pay attention to your body. Exhale, and bend your knee, still staying open at the hip. As your knee bends, let it move on an upward angle away from your body. This will help your heel stay in line with your SITs bone. If you try to force things or if you don’t let your knee come up high enough, your heel will end up in the wrong place. From the hip, return your bent leg back to starting position.
  10. Do 3 repetitions this way, then switch sides. Make sure to do both directions on your second side.

Hip Release Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What do you think of Hip Release? It’s a little trickier than it appears, isn’t it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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