BURR FLATBACK“I will be 63 in December and have had two total hip replacements,” Mary Brauch, (shown right) a former marathon runner, emailed me this week. Mary is now training for a walking marathon and has discovered that The Bar Method, which she’s been doing at home in Chesterfield, MO with The Bar Method DVDs, is helping to get her in shape for the event. “It is very important to have strong legs with muscle (lean, strong) muscle,” she wrote me. “The Bar Method accomplishes that…I am addicted.”

Most Bar Method students like Mary with common hip conditions like hip replacements and arthritis find that the non-impact, controlled nature of the workout offers them an ideal way to get strong without jarring their joints. Other types of hip conditions aren’t as easily adapted to the Bar Method workout as Mary’s. Still, they won’t prevent students who have them from doing the workout provided they use a few simple modifications.

Hip Dysplasia and Labrum Tears:

One such disorder is hip dysplasia, a congenital deformity of the hip that causes the ball and socket not to fit together well, making it vulnerable to dislocation. Another condition is a tear in the “labrum”, a fibrous tissue deep in the hip socket. Students with either condition feel discomfort or instability when their leg moves inwards and upwards towards the center of their body. In order to take class in comfort, they should simply avoid exercises that move their legs in that way. In place of pretzel, which requires students to sit so that one hip is flexed and drawn inward, they can do standing seat. Instead of the “butterfly stretch,” a seat stretch at the end of class that requires students to cross one leg tightly over the other, they can do a “figure 4” stretch, thereby allowing their legs to remain slightly open


describe the imageInflamed muscles and tendons, usually due to overuse, are another source of hip problems. The hip muscles that are most likely to get tweaked in this way are the “rectus femoris,” a thigh muscle that helps elevate the leg, and the iliapsoas, which is actually comprised of two big muscles that join to flex the hip. Dancers as you can imagine are known for getting tendonitis in their hip muscles from repeatedly extending their graceful legs upwards. One such dancer, a beautiful Rockette named Jacey who is now a Bar Method teacher in New York City, developed sensitive hips from all the kicks she performed over the years.

describe the imageDuring “flat-back,” an intense Bar Method exercise that works the hip-flexors, Jacey has found that sitting on a “riser” mat eliminates the problem (shown left). This solution works for any student with easily irritated hips.

As I’ve said in more than one blog, I believe that the overwhelming majority of students with limitations due to joint issues benefit from intense exercise as long as they can do it safely. The reason the Bar Method is a great fit for such students is, to put it in Mary’s words, “because of the results…especially for people who should NOT do high impact but want a good, worthwhile workout.”

5 replies
  1. kathy link
    kathy link says:

    I had been doing the entry level bar video for 6 months when I fell and cracked my knee cap.After avoiding all but the upper body and abs exercises until healed, my first PT visit mirrored many of the bar method moves to strenthen my knees. The therapist was quite impressed with my first session but little did she know I had been doing most of these right along with the video.

  2. Mary
    Mary says:

    I have to agree. I was born with hip dysplasia and now have osteoarthritis at a young age due to the muliple surgeries I had. I’ve been doing Bar Method for the past year and I have to say that Bar Method is a great exercise for me due to the low impact and also helps build the muscles around my left hip joint, which has decreased my hip pain significantly.

  3. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    Do you have modification recommendations for hip flexor pain? I find inner thigh work makes my hip flexor feel very irritated. I also feel discomfort during round back, flat back, and curl (especially high curl).

  4. Rebecca
    Rebecca says:

    My hip flexors have been bothering me a lot in class especially during round back, flat back, thigh where we squeeze the ball or mat, and high curl. What do you recommend?


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