Yes, folks, that is indeed Rodin’s Le Penseur (The Thinker). He is sitting there with his right elbow on his left thigh, which means that his torso is rotated counter-clockwise, and his left side is somewhat scrunched up.
When I put myself into this position, I feel this familiar tightness deep in the back of my hip, where my femur inserts. I have had this for years, and nothing seems to help with it.
At our last session, my PT Sarah told me that she thinks my hip problems might be related to too-tight obturator muscles. There are two obturator muscles. The obturator internus is located underneath the gluteus maximus and helps to laterally rotate the hip. Along with the obturator externus, it works to tilt the pelvis forward.
When the obturator internus is too tight, the pelvic bone becomes tipped too far forward.
So it’s all beginning to make sense. I’ve had this tight obturator and my left hip bone tipped forward for a really long time. No wonder I could never get satisfactory turnout on the left side–my leg bone was already rotated out to the max in an effort to stay upright.
I confess that I have totally misunderstood my problem. For years, I thought that I was just built wrong for ice dancing, with turned-in knees. I kept trying to increase my turnout through stretching exercises that emphasized the external rotation of the leg, which was simply aggravating the problem.
The exercises I have been doing emphasize internally rotating the thigh (picture Le Penseur pushing his left knee into the right one and rotating his left leg clockwise). This activates both the adductors (inside thigh muscles) and the muscles on the outside of the hip.
I have also been working on allowing my knees turn in while skating. What a difference this makes! Really, my knee is aligned right along the edge, but it feels like I’m turning in. I was really surprised to find that even skaters with really good turnout look like they do this.
Sarah pronounced my hips “neutral” so my exercises are doing their job. Now it’s just a matter of strengthening certain muscles and loosening others (like the obturator internus) so they stay that way. More exercises, including some for my lower back and core.
But first, a song from Carly!