Have you ever watched someone effortlessly do an exercise, making it look so easy that you assumed you could do the same thing? But, when you tried it, you struggled or simply couldn’t do it? People often assume that this is because they aren’t flexible enough, but it is important to understand that your bones may be limiting your movement.
Your skeletal anatomy defines how you move. You can only move as you were designed, not as someone else. At the heart of movement is your skeletal system. It is the structural foundation of your body. Your bones are pulled around their joints by your muscles. If your bone structure limits a joint’s range of motion because of its shape, you simply won’t be able to move that way, no matter how hard you try (unless you break off part of the bone, that is).
The Hip Joint
A joint where this becomes obvious is the pelvic/hip joint. The Yoga Blog shows us a perfect example of different shaped pelvis’s with the above picture. As you can see, the shape of the bones in left pelvis open up the lower sockets more than the shape of the bones in the pelvis on the right. So the person on the left “would have been genetically more predisposed to greater external rotation of the femur (thigh bone) on the hip socket. The person on the right might never be able to match the one on the left no matter how much they practiced or tried.” But it’s not just the shape of your pelvis that affects range of motion of your hip joints. Your thigh bone attaches to the pelvic socket with a rounded ball shape that is attached to the top of your thigh bone via a narrow bridge called the femoral neck. Your thigh bone can only move in certain ways through that joint, depending on the angle and length of the femoral neck. When bone hits bone, movement is stopped.
Don’t Get Frustrated
Keep this in mind the next time you try to mimic your friend who loves to stretch her leg over her head. Don’t get frustrated if you can’t do it. Embrace your personal anatomy and move with your own bones. There will be things you can do that she can’t.