This week’s Pose of the Week is a Hip Hack called Kite Flying, or what I also call Two Strap Hip Release. Kite Flying is not your typical yoga posture. It’s actually a Medical Therapeutic Yoga technique I created to mobilize a hip joint that has been snarky for too long, and has created back pain or pelvic pain (not just hip pain). This particular pose can be used BEFORE starting yoga to decrease pain and improve hip mobility.
Hip Joint Preservation – What Should be a Main Mantra in Yoga Practice
As a doctor of physical therapy and professional yoga therapist, my specialty is hip joint preservation, and truth be told ALL JOINT preservation. Historically, you may or may not know that yoga wasn’t created for women at all. It was created for young men and boys. So it comes as no surprise then, that yoga poses have not been recalibrated to fit women’s bodies (or really men’s either, since asana back then wasn’t based on biomechanical science whatsoever or even being safe).
So my mantra is ALL yoga poses should be recalibrated to fit everyone’s body – men, women, trans, bi – y’all means all bodies! Yoga postures are NOT one size fits all, especially for those with back, hip, and/or pelvic pain.
Why Medical Therapeutic Yoga?
One of the main purposes of penning Medical Therapeutic Yoga was to evolve yoga to fit you. Hip preservation happens to be my chief focus when it comes to using yoga therapeutically, but I also wanted to write MTY in order to evolve and inform research, so we could truly combine yoga and rehab science in a way that is meaningful, instead of continuing to pit physical therapy against yoga, for example.
The way I approach yoga is different, and sometimes controversial, because I do go against the grain of the status quo. But the development of MTY informed my professional experience as a physical therapist and athletic trainer and my personal experience with living with joint hypermobility and hip dysplasia. So, that’s a short backstory on my evolution from yoga teacher to yoga therapist to PT student to medical therapeutic yoga author and creator. Now, on to the Hip Hack – Kite Flying!
The Kite Flying Hip Hack
Today’s pose is about a posture I use to help improve hip joint mobility and function called Kite Flying. It’s one of the many Hip Hacks I use in my practice as an orthopaedic and pelvic PT.
Kite Flying is a movement that requires total relaxation of the affected hip joint; and the tricky part is that it requires the other leg to be the “physical therapist,” or the entity that performs the joint mobilization.
Studies also show people with lack of strength and mobility in the hip and pelvic floor tend to have more incontinence issues, that is, urinary or fecal leakage, and pelvic and back pain.
What is Kite Flying?
Kite Flying is one of many Hip Hacks I use with folks who feel pinching or sharp pain in the groin that is right over the hip joint (not close to the pubic bone).
I ONLY use it after I evaluate the hip joint and determine that structures around the hip and possibly the hip capsule itself, are potentially under excessive compression or tensile force and could benefit from a posterior-inferior glide joint mobilization.
However, it can be pretty hard to recreate orthopaedic joint mobilizations at home on your own.
So “Kite Flying” is one of the ways I teach patients how to recreate a similar feeling from the joint mobilization at home.
Kite Flying can:
✅ Aid relaxation of the hip flexors and surrounding soft tissue that can be reactive either due to chronic or acute pain.
✅ Help turn off the muscles in the front of the hip so that strengthening through the posterior chain (read gluts and deep gluteal sling or what I call the Hip Lock) and pelvic floor and core can take place without pain.
✅ Tackle a tight hip capsule that creates false hip impingement. False hip impingement is a term that describes when the alignment of the pelvis, or other changeable factors such as capsule or soft tissue pliability and tightness, can create the symptoms of impingement without there actually being true femoracetabular impingement (FAI) or subspinal impingement (SSI). To understand the difference between FAI and SSI, read my post on the new buzz about extra-articular hip impingement.
✅ Help manage chronic groin pain that is not coming from a hip labral tear but is coming from tight structures in and around the hip joint.
SUPER IMPORTANT TIP: Kite Flying isn’t for everyone. This pose cannot be used if you have a hip labral tear, hip instability, or post hip arthroscopy until you are cleared by your surgeon and your hip/pelvic PT.
What You Need to do the Kite Flying Hip Hack
- You need two yoga belts (one 10 foot and one 4-6 foot) or similar straps that can be adjusted in length. There are many other ways I teach this Hip Hack, but this is just one method. If this doesn’t work for you, you may need a different exercise to get the hip to screw home.
- Two minutes of your time or so on each side (or just one side if that is the only one affected). If it doesn’t bring a sense of relief (even small), then you need to dive deeper with the help of a pelvic and hip PT specialist, who can differentially diagnose what is happening.
- No pain whatsoever during the exercise. You should NEVER have pain with this movement. This hip hack should provide immediate relief and a feeling of improved range of motion and less groin pain and pinching in the immediate area. It can also help address pelvic pain, back pain, and sacroiliac joint pain related to the hip.
- Good control over your hip flexors. The hip flexors (muscles in the front of your hip like the rectus femoris, psoas, iliacus, sartorious and tensor fascia lata) cannot be “on” or firing. This is an essential problem for a LOT of people with hip instability and pain.
- Very Important Point (VIP) 1: Kite Flying will NOT WORK if you cannot relax the hip that the belt/strap is on!
- VIP 2: Do NOT do this exercise without discussing it with your hip/pelvic PT first.
Ok, Happy Hip Hacking!
Practice “Kite Flying” with Me
PS HERE ARE 3 MORE WAYS I CAN HELP YOU!
1. Free Phone Consult – Not sure if your yoga practice is on target? Struggling with hip pain or rehab? I offer free phone consults to see how I can best help.
2. Take courses with me at Living Well Institute and Yoga U Online!
3. Take advantage of the Free Medical Therapeutic Yoga Basic Video Library.
DISCLAIMER: These movements are for protection and preservation, as well as maximizing, pelvic girdle function (hip, SIJ, low back, pelvic floor). This and any other videos I instruct do not constitute physical therapy or a patient-provider relationship. User assumes risk in performing this or any video. Finally, you need to get the approval of your healthcare provider before doing this or any instructional movement video. Evaluation of the pelvic floor and pelvic girdle is a specialty area and is best carried out by a pelvic physical therapist (a plus if they have specialty training in the hip, low back, and SIJ as well). Best practice care of this area should involve a team approach of several practitioners who provide holistic, integrative, biopsychosocial, person-centered care that use a Lifestyle & Functional Medicine model. To locate a therapist near you, visit this link, this link, or join this group.