Internal Rotation – Extension and Big Butts and an all too familiar rant.

In todays episode we go into the role of Hip Internal Rotation and running/sprinting and some compensatory cues you can spot and how you can work to rectify. We momentarily discuss a recent paper highlighting the development of glutes and sprint speed.

And of course we discuss the breaking news that Nasser the Womens 400m world champion will not serve any suspension following 4 whereabouts failures.

In our experience, runners and coaches often have a decent appreciation for the important role that hip mobility plays in the sagittal plane (hip extension in particular). However, all too frequently the runner’s ability to internally rotate the hip (transverse plane) during late stance phase of running gait is unfortunately overlooked. Without adequate hip internal rotation, we see a limit in the runner’s ability to extend the hip, but more importantly we also see a series of “bail-out” compensations, which can contribute to some of the common running imbalances, dysfunctions and injuries we see.

Now, back to the possibilities when the pelvis cannot rotate on the femoral head (ie. internal hip rotation). A few things can happen as the limitation is reached:

  1. the left foot (swing limb) can drop to the ground prematurely rendering a short step length
  2. the pelvis rotation on the hip will hit capsular close packing and compression and come to a halt but the forward momentum of the body-pelvis swing will cause an external rotation pivot of the foot and this extra spin from the foot will achieve the last needed pelvic motion (we call this “cigarette foot”, like putting out a cigarette under the ball of your shoe). Interesting note for those of you who run on crushed gravel or other forgiving surfaces, pay attention to this subtle spin on these surfaces, this could be the spin that you feel at toe off. This is sort of like the Abductory twist of the foot phenomenon, however that is a typically reserved term more for an excessively pronated foot.
  3. the individual will simply limit their stride length to avoid the above problem range however they will also be limiting hip extension, weakening the gluteus maximus. Premature heel rise will go with this issue (seen beautifully in this video above).
  4. Since internal rotation is a precursory range before hip extension, if you limit internal rotation you will limit hip extension. When hip extension is limited quite often you will ask for more saggital extension from the joint complex above or below the hip, so looking above the hip we can see increased lumbar extension or below we can see knee hyperextension, both compensation can make up for the loss of hip extension.
  5. As the internal limitation is met, pelvic obliquity can be adopted to normalise linear saggital gait progression. Eventually the core will become asymmetrical and create a pelvic obliquity distortion pattern which can be seen on static standing, typically a clockwise pattern (if we are talking about the right hip limitation) to enable more of the internal rotation at the hip (re-read #1 to understand this).

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