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Movement Monday: Mastering the Hip Twist in Pilates

Malcolm's hip twist: a study in precision and postural balance
Malcolm mastering a version of the hip twist, highlighting strength and flexibility

In this week's Movement Monday, we delve into the intricate world of the hip twist, a quintessential Pilates movement that stands as a testament to the balance of strength, flexibility, and core stability. As we guide our clients through the graceful yet challenging orbit of their legs, we invite them to explore the depths of their bodily control and muscular coordination.

Understanding the Hip Twist

The hip twist is more than just an exercise; it's a symphony of movement requiring precision, control, and an intimate understanding of one's body. As the legs circle in front of the body and then down, the trunk's stability is put to the test, demanding a harmonious effort from various muscle groups. But let's be specific, it is the hip joint that does the movement, or action, and not the pelvis or lower back which ideally should remain as fixed as possible.

The Challenge of Posture and Muscle Activation

One of the hip twist's unique challenges lies in its interaction with the client's postural tendencies and muscle imbalances. For those with a more hyperlordotic posture, characterized by an exaggerated lumbar curve, the movement can be particularly taxing. The overactivity of the psoas muscles in these individuals means that the hip twist doesn't just exercise their bodies; it also beckons the overused psoas to engage further, potentially compounding stress into the lower back rather than alleviating it.

Conversely, individuals with elongated, less active psoas muscles may find the hip twist less strenuous for the trunk, but the weight of the legs may overstress the hip flexor group. This all goes to highlight the exercise's variability in impact based on muscular and postural differences from one person to another.

A Question of Muscle Balance and Corrective Exercise

This brings us to an essential contemplation in Pilates practice: the pursuit of muscle balance through corrective exercise. The hip twist, with its demands on muscle activation and body awareness, serves as a prime example of how traditional Pilates exercises might not uniformly fit all postural profiles. Our goal, then, is to discern which muscles need awakening and which require quieting, aiming for a harmonious muscular symphony.

Adapting the Hip Twist for Diverse Needs

So, how do we, as dedicated Pilates teachers, ensure that the hip twist serves its intended purpose for each unique client? The answer lies in adaptation and individual assessment. By evaluating each client's posture, muscle activity, and overall physical condition, we can modify the hip twist to meet their needs, perhaps by altering the range of motion, providing supportive cues, or even selecting alternative exercises that cater to similar objectives without exacerbating postural imbalances.


The hip twist embodies the core principles of Pilates: control, precision, and a deep connection between mind and body. As teachers, our challenge and privilege is to adapt this traditional movement to the modern tapestry of our client's bodies, ensuring that each person we guide through their Pilates journey finds balance, strength, and flexibility—not just in their practice, but in their daily lives.

Let's continue to explore, adapt, and inspire, ensuring that our teachings are as dynamic and varied as the individuals who trust us to lead their Pilates experience.

Until next Movement Monday, keep moving with intention and insight.


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