The Hip Hook
Step 1: Know where you’re headed
This yellow zone is the area where you can access and release both the psoas and iliacus with your Hip Hook.
It’s actually a lot of real estate: about the size of the palm of your hand, running alongside your pelvic bone. Some parts of this yellow zone may be soft and supple, other areas may be extremely tight. This is why you’ll want to experiment to find the best spots and angles for your unique body. (Get excited: there will likely be several “magic” spots!)
Placing the tip of your Hip Hook anywhere in this yellow zone - from the top ridge of your pelvis to the crease where your leg meets your torso - is fair game.
When you first lay on your Hip Hook, you’ll be applying pressure to the psoas muscle. When you press the handle towards the floor (or the wall, if you’re standing), the angle shifts to apply pressure to the iliacus muscle. Both muscles are equally important!
Putting prolonged (30-90 seconds), precise, and angular pressure to these muscles is the most effective way to release them.
Step 2: Find a good starting point
You’ll be exploring the whole length of these muscles (the yellow zone), but everybody needs a starting place.
Standing up or laying on your back on a firm surface (not a couch or bed), locate the ASIS (anterior superior iliac spine) with your index finger: it’s the bony part that sticks out just above where your hip creases when you sit. Move your index finger about 1 inch towards your belly button to find the “soft spot”. This is a great starting point for the tip of your Hip Hook.
As you find the tight spots along these muscles, place your Hip Hook as close to the inside surface of your pelvic bone as possible. That way you will be able to safely access both the psoas and the iliacus.
Step 3: Apply pressure with whichever method is most comfortable for you
STANDING IN A DOORWAY - METHOD A
Place the flat part of your Hip Hook against the door frame, with the long handle facing away from the opening (an open doorway allows you room for your face). Line up the tip with that sweet spot, and lean your body into it.
LAY OVER THE HIP HOOK - METHOD B
Place the platform of your Hip Hook flat on the ground (on a firm, non-slip surface). Line up the tip of your Hip Hook with the magic spot found in Step 2 and lay over it, making sure the base stays flat on the floor.
ROLL ONTO THE HIP HOOK - METHOD C
Laying on your side, place the tip of your Hip Hook into your magic spot and roll over onto it. You’ll want to make sure the base is flat against the floor when you get there.
Step 4: Relax into it
Yes, it’s probably going to be really tight for the first 30 seconds and you may feel heat or a stretching sensation. Take ten deep breaths and imagine your muscles melting over the tool, releasing tension.
Normal sensations include:
2. Hurts so good
3. Skin feels like it’s ripping (it’s okay: that’s fascia releasing)
Move the tip to another spot if you feel:
1. Numbness: you’re pressing on a nerve. Don’t panic, simply adjust the placement.
2. Throbbing: you’re pressing on a blood vessel. Don’t panic, simply adjust the placement.
Step 5: Use the handle
Once you’ve settled in for at least 30 seconds, and feel comfortable(ish) laying over your Hip Hook, take your hand or forearm and press down on the handle, near the base. This shifts the pressure from your psoas to your iliacus. (This is where the exclusive Hip Hook magic happens.)
Step 6: Relax into it (again)
Yes, it’s possible this muscle is even tighter than your psoas. We’ve all been there and we are all deep breathing with you. Imagine your muscles melting around the tool for 30-90 seconds. In the beginning, it may require more time for both these muscles to release. Listen to your body. Repeat this process by moving or angling the Hip Hook slightly to access your unique tight spots.
How often should I use the Hip Hook?
A very common question that we are asked is about how frequently the Hip Hook should be used (i.e. daily, multiple times per day, every other day, a few times per week, etc.). The answer can vary from person to person, depending on some different factors, such as:
How well is your body reacting to the pressure applied to your muscles by the Hip Hook?
This applies to everyone, no matter what your goal with using the Hip Hook is. We recommend that you start off by simply using the tool (following the instructions manual, of course) for a few minutes on each side on Day 1 and see how your body responds. Listen to the signs and signals that your body is telling you.
If you feel sore and/or bruised in the hip flexor region (which is totally normal), then it may be a sign that you should initially take about 24-48 hours of rest between uses of the Hip Hook to let the area heal and recover. Your body may not be used to applying this amount of pressure to these muscles, so it can take some time to adjust. You can even play around with using heat or ice to see if that helps the healing process.
When returning to using the Hip Hook the next time, you may consider trying one of these modifications to reduce the pressure being applied into your muscles, or even try the standing technique against a wall to better manage the pressure. See if these help you to relax better when using the Hip Hook for a more effective release of tension and tightness.
As your body begins to adapt and you become more comfortable lying over the Hip Hook, you can begin to increase the frequency at which you use the muscle release tool. If you don't experience any soreness or bruising after your first use, then that's great. Feel free to use it every single day (as needed) if that is what you want to do.
Continue to listen to your body as you increase the frequency of using the Hip Hook or as you try more advanced techniques to increase the pressure being applied into your psoas and iliacus muscles.
What is your primary reason for using the Hip Hook? Pain and tightness relief? Preventative care or maintenance routine?
There are many reasons why you may be using the Hip Hook. Whether it may be to overcome lots of pain and/or tightness or as part of a preventative or maintenance routine, you may find that you want or that you need to use the Hip Hook a different number of times over the course of any given week. And that's totally fine. Again, it comes back to listening to what your body is telling you.
If you are in a lot of pain or feel discomfort caused from having lots of tightness in your hip flexors, then feel free to use the Hip Hook every single day (and even multiple times per day if you'd like), so long as your body is responding well to the pressure being applied in this region (which we just discussed above).
Over time, we hope that you will start to experience improvement in the way you are feeling with your body and enter more of a "maintenance" phase when using the Hip Hook. In this scenario, you'd largely be out of pain but would continue to use the tool as you work to retrain your body with some corrective exercises to help maintain the improved alignment and functioning of your hips and pelvis.
On the other hand, maybe you are not in pain at all but choose to still use the Hip Hook in your self-care routine. You may be able to use the tool once or twice each week (or even less frequently) and feel great with that approach. Of course, you can still choose to use it every single day even if you don't feel tight or have any pain. It's entirely up to you!
How long should I use the Hip Hook for?
Another very common question that we are asked is about how long the Hip Hook should be used for during a single session using the tool. Again, this answer can vary from person to person. Some people will do the bare minimum, spending only a couple of minutes on each side. Others may spend closer to 30 minutes in total.
Neither one is necessarily "better" and it mostly depends on how your body reacts to the pressure of the Hip Hook. It will take some time for you to practice using the tool to get used to it and discover how much you need to use it. In general, here is what we can recommend:
Find your starting point to see what it feels like.
To start, we recommend trying the Hip Hook in the general "starting point" (refer back to Steps 1 & 2 of our Hip Hook instructions guide, if needed) and holding it there for anywhere between 30-90 seconds. This time range is generally the amount of time needed to create a response within the body to begin releasing some tension in the muscles as you relax over the tool.
At first, the pressure may feel a little intense. That is totally normal, as these muscles may be super tight and have never been pressed on in this way before. Do your best to take deep breaths to help your muscles relax, imagining your muscles melting around the tip of the Hip Hook. Over the course of the 90 seconds, we hope that you'll feel a little more comfortable and relaxed over the tool.
Note: It is MOST important that you can take those deep, relaxed breaths when lying over the Hip Hook. If you find yourself bracing and resisting the pressure of the tip of the tool from sinking deeper into your muscles, you likely will not experience any release of tension. If the pressure feels too intense, be sure to try one of these modifications to reduce the pressure or even use the standing technique against a wall to manage the pressure.
Be sure to explore some other areas along the iliac crest of the pelvis by moving the Hip Hook and changing its angle.
There is much more than just one spot where you can use the Hip Hook (refer back to Steps 1 & 2 of our Hip Hook instructions guide, if needed). You might not be holding as much tension in that "starting spot" compared to other locations along the length of the iliac crest. Explore those areas too and spend another 30-90 seconds in those spots.
This way, you are exploring along the length of the muscle(s) and applying pressure in slightly different locations. This may allow you to spend more total time lying over the Hip Hook without potentially "overdoing" it in one session (which could include feeling very sore or bruised, as if you stayed in the exact same spot for way too long for example).
What should it feel like when using the Hip Hook?
Using the Hip Hook for the first time (or first few times) can be rather intense and even slightly uncomfortable. This is totally normal, especially if you are someone who holds a lot of tension in your hip flexors.
Common sensations you may experience when using the Hip Hook include:
- A “hurts so good” feeling as if you were pressing into a sore or tight muscle.
- A warming sensation in the area being pressed on. This is coming from an increase in blood flow towards that area of your body.
- A stretching or pulling sensation felt in the lower back, around the pelvis, or at the front or side of the hip. These are the attachment points of the iliopsoas muscles, which may also send these referral pattern sensations to other areas of the body that are not being directly pressed on.
- Initially, a slight increase in discomfort, which should begin to subside as you continue to lie over the Hip Hook in a fully relaxed position while taking deep, controlled breaths.
- Feeling sore or even a little bruised where the Hip Hook was applying pressure. In this case, consider taking a day or two off in between uses at first to allow the area to heal. Also be sure to try the different modified positions to help reduce the pressure of the tool, gradually easing yourself into it so your body can adjust and truly relax.
Remember, happy muscles don’t hurt when you press on them. As you continue to use your Hip Hook consistently over time, you’ll feel more and more comfortable lying over the tool as your psoas and iliacus muscles begin to release tension.
What should it NOT feel like when using the Hip Hook?
When using the Hip Hook, it is important to be aware of some sensations that might indicate you are using the tool incorrectly or with too much intensity. These may include:
- Feeling like the tip of the tool is simply “poking” your skin. This likely means that you are not fully relaxing your core as you apply pressure with the Hip Hook and/or that you need to move the tool around to have it press into your psoas or iliacus muscles.
- A SIGNIFICANT increase in pain. If the pain you are feeling does not reduce after about 30 seconds, you likely increased the intensity of the release too quickly by using too much of your bodyweight over the tool. Reduce the intensity by trying the standing modification or one of the modified positions on the ground.
- Feeling A LOT of soreness or having SIGNIFICANT bruising (a little bit of this is okay). Let the area heal before using the Hip Hook again, reducing the total time using the tool as well as using a standing or other modified position to reduce the pressure.
It is also important to be aware of using the Hip Hook potentially in a spot that you should not be pressing into, such as a nerve, blood vessel, or artery. Don’t panic, simply move the tip of the Hip Hook slightly to a different location. Your body will tell you immediately if you are pressing on these (think about placing your hand on a hot stove). These sensations may include:
- A pins & needles or other nerve-like sensation going down your thigh or leg.
- A throbbing sensation that results in your leg falling asleep.
The majority of these nerves, blood vessels, and arteries are located pretty far away from where you should be using your Hip Hook, so don’t freak yourself out too much about using the tool. As long as you are following the instructions and listening to your body, you should be just fine.
How long does it take to notice a difference in the way I feel?
While some people may experience immediate relief, that is not always the case for everyone. The length of time that it takes someone's pain to improve when using the Hip Hook varies and can depend on several factors:
- How long you've been in pain and how much tension your muscles are holding
- How consistent you are with your Hip Hook routine and the corrective pelvis realignment exercises
- How well you move and take care of your body in your daily activities
Perhaps the single most important factor when trying to make progress with anything in life is consistency. This concept applies to your use of the Hip Hook. As you use it as part of your regular wellness routine (i.e. daily, every other day, etc.), you can begin to experience results over the course of time.
Should I use the Hip Hook before or after my workout or activity?
The Hip Hook can be used both before and after a workout, or any other activity that you enjoy doing (i.e. hike, bike ride, run, etc.). However, if you only had to pick one or the other, we'd strongly encourage you to use the Hip Hook before a workout.
Using the Hip Hook Before a Workout
Releasing tension in your hip flexors before you workout can help you improve the range of motion of your hips along with the alignment of your pelvis, both of which can help you feel better during your workout. This can have the effect of allowing you to strengthen and stabilize around this better alignment, leading to longer-lasting improvement with your pain. Many Hip Hook users have also reported feeling an increase in performance during their workout when releasing their hip flexors beforehand.
Using the Hip Hook After a Workout
Similarly, the Hip Hook can also be used as part of a workout recovery routine after you exercise. This may prevent the hip flexors from tightening up, as these muscles may be used a lot in any given activity. Helping these muscles relax and recover after your workout (or later in the same day that you worked out) may help you feel strong and keep your psoas and iliacus happier more consistently day after day.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
Ultimately, the Hip Hook can be used in more of a preventative way pre-workout to help get your body into better alignment. As it relates to using the tool post-workout, ideally it would be used to help with recovery (in a good way) following a tough workout...not as something to "undo" the pain that was caused by pushing through a workout while your hips were tight and/or out of alignment.