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hip rotation musings

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    Posted: 04/26/2019 at 3:23am
I've been reading a bit more on the hip rotation mechanisms lately and the importance of the feet direction. Disclaimer: The below is just my musings and thoughts about various issues and is not an endorsement of any technique or a scare campaign. 

Basically the hip is a ball and socket joint which has a lot of flexibility. If we point our feet outwards, we're basically doing hip external rotation, and hip internal rotation when we point our feet inwards. 

On the FH stroke, we often talk about rotating the hips in a counterclockwise direction to produce rotational power. Unfortunately there is very little regard for the direction of the feet which actually controls the degree of hip internal/external rotation. 

For the hips, the neutral position is when both feet are pointing forward in the same direction. However, in TT this position is more rare because of the requirement to cover the BH and FH corner. So we often see players in an externally rotated hip position (left foot pointing to the left and right foot pointing to the right). 

The other issue is when we have differential feet rotation during the stroke. For e.g. during the FH we rotate our right foot from pointing towards the right to pointing forward, while the left leg stays put. That would mean that we have basically done 1 set of hip external + internal rotation every time we do a FH. Now normally that is not that big of an issue, however it might become an issue when you do that over millions of repetitions over a lifetime, in terms of wear and tear on the joint. Collapsing the knees will help reduce the degree of hip external/internal rotation, however I did find out that having the toes not tracking the knees is not exactly very healthy for the knee either. 

So recently I've been experimenting with rotating both feet during the FH swing, i.e. when the ball comes to my FH, I turn both feet to face the right, then during the stroke I turn both feet back to face the front. If I need to move to the deep FH fast, I simply turn both feet and run towards the ball, plant the right foot at the right position then rotate both feet back to the neutral position (both feet pointing forward). This will prevent excessive internal/external rotation of the hips. Of course a completely neutral position (both feet facing the same direction) is probably unfeasible, but if we can reduce the amount of external rotation (I've seen players go >90 degrees) it might be a positive effect on hip health. For me I'm experimenting with something more like 45 degrees at most times. I think I actually move faster this way compared to the crablike side shuffle that TT players are traditionally taught. 

I haven't researched any farther into this but already found this article:


From the article: The most common injury pattern is forceful hip external rotation beyond normal physiologic limits, which stretches the iliofemoral ligament. Although less common, excessive internal rotation could potentially lead to ischiofemoral ligament laxity.




Edited by blahness - 04/26/2019 at 3:24am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tt Gold Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/26/2019 at 6:05pm
so you think it's unhealthy to use hip rotation? I could see how hip rotation could be unhealthy if the left foot stays rotated outwards. That way you would overextend when externally rotating the right foot. But when doing forehand you always turn your left feet inwards. I also don't really think that you're rotating your hip externally. Cause let's say you're turning both feet to the right, then you're not in external rotation at the hip. I thought about the feeling when doing a forehand and I'd describe it like this...

You're basically shifting your feet to the right, creating an internal rotation at the left hip. Because both feet are facing the same direction, you can't really get too much external rotation on the right hip. So the movement for me is basically internally rotating at the left hip (feeling the left hip turn) and then pushing the right hip forward or kind of diagonal to the left (feeling the right hip turn). I don't know what's considered too much external rotation, but if I stand in a neutral position and turn both feet to the right for a topspin and then try to turn my hips, I reach a point where I can't go further, as my leg is in the way. Overall I think the key is actually to focus on turning the feet. That way you get body rotation without overextending. If you focus on your spine, or the hips, then you'll probably lose focus of your feet. But turning your feet will automatically create the rotation necessary for a powerful forehand.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote blahness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04/26/2019 at 7:38pm
Originally posted by Tt Gold Tt Gold wrote:

so you think it's unhealthy to use hip rotation? I could see how hip rotation could be unhealthy if the left foot stays rotated outwards. That way you would overextend when externally rotating the right foot. But when doing forehand you always turn your left feet inwards. I also don't really think that you're rotating your hip externally. Cause let's say you're turning both feet to the right, then you're not in external rotation at the hip. I thought about the feeling when doing a forehand and I'd describe it like this...

You're basically shifting your feet to the right, creating an internal rotation at the left hip. Because both feet are facing the same direction, you can't really get too much external rotation on the right hip. So the movement for me is basically internally rotating at the left hip (feeling the left hip turn) and then pushing the right hip forward or kind of diagonal to the left (feeling the right hip turn). I don't know what's considered too much external rotation, but if I stand in a neutral position and turn both feet to the right for a topspin and then try to turn my hips, I reach a point where I can't go further, as my leg is in the way. Overall I think the key is actually to focus on turning the feet. That way you get body rotation without overextending. If you focus on your spine, or the hips, then you'll probably lose focus of your feet. But turning your feet will automatically create the rotation necessary for a powerful forehand.

I think we're basically in agreement. I think my biggest takeaway from this research is that both feet should be turning like what you said. If the left feet doesn't turn but the right feet is turning then you would be externally and then internally rotating at the hip joint.... it's not the hip rotation that's the issue but the hip external rotation (if we don't turn both feet)


Edited by blahness - 04/26/2019 at 7:39pm
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