Hip Hooray: A Lesson on the Lymphatic System
How the hip flexors are the key to full range of motion and flushing stubborn fat.
Brian Bradley, Fitness Director for Elev8d, had an epiphany while recently attending a conference in London: No matter where he went—the venue, local restaurants, public transportation—pretty much everyone he saw was fit and trim. This is in stark contrast to the United States, where adult obesity rates now exceed thirty percent in thirty states.
But Bradley’s realization was more than the cross-continental weight divide.
“Sure, [Europeans] burn more calories because they walk everywhere, use the stairs, and take the Tube,” Bradley says, “but that’s not why they’re slimmer. It’s because they’re constantly moving their hips and legs through their full, natural range of motion. When they do that, they’re helping their lymphatic system to work properly.”
You might associate your lymphatic system with immunity. Consisting of multiple channels and nodes throughout the body, as well as your spleen, thymus, tonsils and adenoids, the lymphatic system helps protect you against infection and disease. But this system also plays a vital role in weight management—how and where you store fat.
“The lymphatic system travels through the ball-and-socket joints of your hips,” Bradley explains. “When your hips aren’t utilized as they’re meant to, the lymph, or fluid that travels throughout and powers the lymphatic system, gets trapped.” In today’s sedentary society—where so many of us wake up, drive to work, sit at a desk all day, drive home and lounge on the couch before bed—our hips aren’t being put through the paces Mother Nature intended. And the occasional, or even frequent, stint on the elliptical, won’t counteract the results of all that inactivity on our lymphatic system. Even a daily trip to the gym isn’t nearly enough full, organic extension in the hips.
Now, back to the weight component. You’re a desk jockey, maybe even one with a well-worn gym membership card. Your hips, which want to move, don’t. Despite a daily workout, your hips and rear end aren’t getting any smaller, and maybe you have some stubborn cellulite. (Bradley often calls the elliptical the “make-your-butt-bigger machine.”) Think about where your lymph is getting stalled: In the hips.
“Pear-shaped hips are simply the body’s way of telling you that you’re out of balance,” says anatomy expert Pete Egoscue, Co-Founder of Elev8d Fitness. “Fat cells like to settle in at the spot with the least amount of efficient movement.” At the same time, he explains, the lymphatic system running through the hip isn’t functioning properly, so it can’t clear out the lymph. “The lymph starts to pool, it merges with the fat cells, and you’re stuck with stubborn fat deposits that no amount of treadmill running will diminish.”
Egoscue points out that many people in this situation have a pelvis that tilts under. (An easy self-test: Wearing a top that allows you to see your waistline, and a pair or pants or shorts, stand as you normally would in a mirror, turned to the side. Does the waistline of your pants or shorts appear to sit lower in the back than it does in the front?) “As the pelvis tilts more and more posterior, the body begins to take on a pear shape,” Egoscue says. “The body is working inefficiently, thinking it needs to save energy—aka fat cells—for a rainy day.”
You need a good book and a hot mug of tea for a rainy day, not extra, useless fat cells.
So, what’s the answer? How can you get your hips functional again, your pelvis aligned, and bid adieu to that pear shape? Elev8d Fitness is designed to do just that.
Each workout incorporates the eight core movements: over, under, around, sideways, rotation, flexion, extension, and push/pull. It’s not about working harder, but smarter. Rather than an hour burn on the treadmill, Elev8d Fitness pinpoints the lymphatic system by activating full range of motion in the load-bearing joints with varied and dynamic movement. In as little as eight minutes, four times a week, you can steadily adjust your pelvic position and get the lymphatic system pumping again.