We’ve all heard it, ‘it’s all in the hips’, and it’s been a reoccurring theme in my lessons and my own riding over the last few weeks. Like I’m certain many riders do, I used to hear about the importance of using your hips in riding, and experimented with holding the hips still, pushing and shoving, or twisting at the hip. I managed to improve a lot with limited knowledge, and now I feel I’ve taken the next step in understanding this key area.
I’ve found a few more answers to these questions in relation to my own riding over the last few days, and these answers would not have been possible had I not been on a journey to explore and improve my own body, through pilates and stretch classes, alongside continually analysing what is going on in my body in day to day activities.
Last week at the stretch class, we explored the movement in the hips and where tensions are. I realised that now my hips move much more freely than they have in the past, and I have much more control over the movement in specific actions. This really became evident in my last 2 rides when I was finally able to ‘talk’ to my hips, for them to tilt left and right and forward and back, not as a big block that drags the rest of my body around, but on their own. *Light bulb* the key to unlocking more depth to the knowledge of an independent seat!
The biggest thing I realised is that the hips are important because they are connected to everything else. I know that seems obvious, but changing from hips moving as a stiff heavy block, to hips sort of moving independently, and then digging deeper and getting an appreciation for all of the muscles and tendons at play, I finally found them moving independently with the connections to the rest of me, acting more like elastic than baler twine.
Sitting on the edge of a hard chair, with your feet flat on the floor and a neutral spine, take a moment to notice your seat bones on the chair.
You may want to put your hands underneath them (palm down) to be able to feel them more clearly, but beware to give your hands/fingers a break often!
Then try to lift the left seat bone from the chair. Consider, how do you manage this? Do you push down with your foot? Which foot? Do you lift it from your core? Do you do both at the same time? Does your right seat bone get heavier when you do? Does it go forward, back or straight up? Do your shoulders tilt? Do you notice something else?
Try this now with the left side. Consider the same questions. Then, Is this side harder or easier than the other side? Are the answers the same as the other side or do you move this side in a different way?
Then experiment! Can you get this movement in different ways? Without the tip of the shoulders? Without the forward or back movement? With a forward or back movement? And so on.
Try it again in a weeks time, see what else you notice and if anything has changed!