Hip Range Of Motion In Yoga

Hip Range Of Motion In Yoga

Christine Wiese Yoga Postures, Yoga Research Leave a Comment

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What is the hip range of motion in 11 common yoga postures?

Research Study At A Glance

The Research Question Asked

What is the hip’s range of motion in 11 common yoga postures, and does that hip range of motion pose a danger to those with a post-operative hip replacement?

Type of Study

Clinical study

Study Participants (Sample)

Sample size: 20
Study participants:

  • Age 24-59 years old
  • 17 female and 3 male
  • All study participants were healthy with no previous hip-related orthopedic issues
Methods

Study participants performed 11 common yoga postures three times for 15 minutes each time. Hip range of motion was recorded and compared to recommended safe range of motion for those with a recent hip replacement.

Results

Hip range of motion in at least one of the 11 postures evaluated exceeded the recommended range for those with a recent hip replacement in either flexion, extension, adduction, or internal rotation. None of the postures exceeded the recommendations for external rotation.

Conclusion

Common yoga postures do take the hip joint through a wide range of motion in all directions. For those in the first year after receiving a hip replacement, it may be worth moving more cautiously through deeper ranges of motion to avoid any chance of dislocating the prosthesis.

Hip Range Of Motion In YogaBackground

Whether the motivation for practice is physical health and wellness or increased mindfulness and equanimity, yoga is a popular activity. People of all ages and who are experiencing a wide variety of health situations do yoga. The population of those doing yoga also includes some number of practitioners who have received a hip replacement. It is still unknown just what the safe hip range of motion is for a prosthetic hip joint. Doctors vary in their recommendations for and against specific activities during the first year after surgery. What’s also unknown is what range of motion actually is required in the hip joint to move into the full expression of many common yoga postures. The research study that I summarize in this article probed into these questions.

Research question

What is the range of motion in the hip in common yoga postures, and does that range of motion put those with a recent hip replacement in danger of dislocation of their hip prosthesis?

Research methods

Study participants were selected who reported having a yoga practice of at least one day per week for at least one year. There were 20 total participants in the study. Seventeen female and three male participants ranged in age from 24-59 years old. All participants were healthy and had no history of hip injury or hip-related orthopedic issues.

Study participants performed 11 yoga postures (downward dog, standing forward bend, warrior 1, warrior 2, crescent lunge, half moon, triangle, eagle, tree, seated twist, and pigeon) three times for 15 minutes each time. Asymmetrical poses were done on both the right and left sides. Motion analysis using a goniometer and a 10-camera motion capture system was used to record degrees of hip motion in six directions: flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, and external rotation. Recorded hip range of motion for each posture in each direction was compared to recommended safe range of motion for those with a recent hip replacement.

Results

The hip range of motion recorded in these 11 common yoga postures exceeded the recommended range for those with a new hip replacement in nearly every pose in at least one direction of movement. The hip movement exceeded the recommendations in at least one posture in: flexion, extension, adduction, and internal rotation. None of the postures evaluated exceeded the recommended range of motion for external rotation (30°), however.

Postures where participants exceeded recommended end range of movement AFTER post-operative hip replacement

Average of all participants exceeded recommended end range in hip flexion (>90°) in:

  • Downward dog
  • Forward fold
  • Half moon
  • Seated twist
  • Pigeon

More flexible participants exceeded recommended end range in hip flexion (>90°) in:

  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2
  • Crescent lunge
  • Triangle

Average of all participants exceeded recommended end range in hip hyperextension (>10°) in:

  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2
  • Crescent lunge
  • Triangle
  • Pigeon

More flexible participants exceeded recommended end range in hip hyperextension (>10°) in:

  • Downward dog
  • Forward fold
  • Half moon
  • Tree

Average of all participants exceeded recommended end range in hip adduction (>15°) in:

  • Eagle
  • Seated twist

Average of all participants exceeded recommended end range in hip adduction (>15°) in:

  • Half moon
  • Triangle
  • Eagle

More flexible participants exceeded recommended end range in internal rotation (>15°) in every pose evaluated.

Why is this relevant to yoga practitioners?

As yoga practitioners we hear a lot about range of motion and sometimes what we hear are conflicting opinions about what is enough or what is too much range of motion at a particular joint. However, there really is very little research using laboratory testing to answer the question of how much we are really moving at a particular joint in a specific yoga pose. This paper reports the actual hip range of motion in several common yoga postures.

As we continue in the modern yoga experiment, research like this study gives us useful information about what we are actually doing in the body. We can then use that information to be more specific about how we make changes in yoga postures to accommodate whatever is happening in our bodies as we practice. For those yoga practitioners with a hip replacement, this research is especially relevant to making decisions about how to modify your practice as you accommodate the hip prosthesis.

Conclusion

Our own felt sense as yoga practitioners and teachers is a critical piece of information about the experience we’re having and how it relates to changes we might want to make in the practice. However, subjective felt sense can also sometimes mislead us. For example, how many times have you felt like you were reaching your arm straight out in front of you only to have your teacher adjust the position? What felt “straight” wasn’t really. Objective information about physically what is happening in the body, like our actual range of motion, can add an important piece to our big picture understanding of practice and inform our choices as our practice evolves.

Reference citation

Mears, S.C., M.R. Wilson, E.M. Mannen, S.A. Tackett, and C.L. Barnes. 2018. Position of the hip in yoga. The Journal of Arthroplasty. 33:2306-2311.

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