When hip joints are tight, all of the most basic and important movement patterns we need in life become more uncomfortable, less efficient—even painful. We may think that what we’re feeling is all and only about the hips, but here’s another perspective to consider: It’s never one muscle causing your pain. There is always a pattern of muscle tension in the system.

It could be because the muscles that attach to the joints are tight, but it could equally be tight muscles somewhere else that manifest as pain in the hip joint. If the shoulders are tight and don’t gently move forward and back when you walk forward, you may notice that your hips don’t move freely, or that one hip moves while the other one feels “stuck.”

These muscles need to be retrained slowly and intelligently (not forcefully, as if working out at the gym) so they move with coordination, efficiency, and ease.

This is why a Somatic Movement practice incorporates many different movements (not just ones directly targeting the hip) so we can release tension in the whole body.

Once the muscles of the waist, back, and abdominals are once again under the brain’s conscious control and can contract, lengthen, and relax voluntarily, then a routine of functional strengthening can be very beneficial.

An integral part of retraining muscles for optimum efficiency and coordination is pandiculation. When you practice Somatic Movements, you aren’t stretching the muscles, but instead you are resetting their length and relaxing their tonus (accumulated muscle tension) by pandiculating—contracting the muscle first, then slowly lengthening it to a full relaxation (as if you were imitating a cat or dog getting up from rest).

Pandiculation is the key to resetting muscle length and restoring sensory awareness and motor control without forceful or painful stretching.

So remember: You are a system that works as an efficient whole. If your hips hurt as you move through your practice, you need to focus on releasing the waist and the back, opening the chest, and letting the shoulders move. Then let us know how your hips feel!