Hips don't lie!

We celebrate the winners of a Boulder World Cup as the best overall climbers during the event. This was certainly the case again last weekend in Japan, where Akiyo Noiguchi and Gabri Moroni displayed impressive performances throughout the whole event.

For advancing to the next round though, especially in tough rounds, a single exceptional ability sometimes be enough. In the case of the mens qualification group B, with exceptional awareness, mobility and control of your hip you could advance to semis.

Let’s look into how „Hip Control“ played a deciding role throughout the event.

Centre of Gravity (CoG) 
The CoG is the focal point of gravity's pull on the body. The CoG lies approximately about 10 cm lower than the navel, near the top of the hip bones. The precise location of the CoG changes constantly with every new position of the body and limbs and can even be outside the body. Even than, we can control our CoG by controlling our hip.

The Psoas 
If you want to research hip awareness, hip mobility and hip control, you have to consider the Psoas muscle (pronounced so-as). It is the deepest muscle of the human body affecting our structural balance, muscular integrity, flexibility, strength, range of motion and joint mobility.

The Psoas is the only muscle to connect the spine to the legs.  It is responsible for holding you upright, and allows you to lift your legs to reach the next foothold. A functioning psoas stabilizes the spine and provides support through the trunk, forming a shelf for the vital organs of the abdominal core.

Hip Mobility
It is difficult to create a sense of balance in this joint. Even climbers in a Boulder World Cup that most likely don’t lack basic mobility and who outwardly appear flexible, experience a sense of tightness or restriction in the hips. Without a sense of balance, there is no confidence in hip coordination. Without confidence there is no mobility and control.

Hip Control

Control your Hip, and you control your body.
Climbers sometimes struggle with understanding the difference between movement at the hip and movement at the pelvis. This effects overall coordination between the two areas. Better interaction between hip and pelvis increases balance, coordination, and mobility at the hip joint.

Hip Momentum & Trajectory
By mastering Hip control in all planes and around all axises, climbers can control whatever kind of movement they want to create. You can be as static or dynamic as the Hip allows. Consider that the Hip moves around and plays in 3-dimensional space. Front to Back, Side to Side, Twist and Turn and everywhere in between. 

Above: For analyzing a climber’s movements you want to look into how the hip plays in 3-dimensional space and if its orientation facilitates the intended movement. Pick one point in time (in this case the right hand on its first contact with the hold)  and check if the hips´ orientation improves the direction of loading on the contact points. Also look out for (lack of) hip extension and potential energy leaks. Failing to engage the hip generally leads to failed attempts.

Above: The movement of the CoG in space is going to increase the contact force on some holds. The forces at work on any point of contact during a move are dynamic. For analyzing a climber’s movements you want to look into if the CoG’s movement work in her favor or not. For this you pick one point in time (in this case the left hand on its first contact with the hold) and check if the CoG’s movement improves the contact point. The red arrow indicates a non-productive direction of the CoG, whereas the green arrow shows a helpful momentum. Look at the video here!

Confident Hips against Decision fatigue

Tight hips most likely don’t limit these climbers’ movement potential; however, it does take them quite a bit of work to create an equilibrium of stability and mobility in this area. If you hope to feel it all out, you are prone to fall off because of decision fatigue. Decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision making. This is certainly the case of Chong’s attempt if you look at how much time it took him. Gabri on the other hand moves with confidence and sets himself up for success with ideal positioning and impressive hip control.

The video:
There is a video to go with the article: Check it out here.


2000 Holds





Climb. Come together. Celebrate!