RACE WALKING 101  -  AN INTRODUCTION TO RACE WALKING
SCREEN
 T01P07
7 - HOW TO HOLD AND USE YOUR HIPS
 
1. Hip rotation and hip drop are two technical elements that require a bit more time for new race walkers to learn properly.  They are, however, important for achieving significant speed.
  2. Hip drop can be illustrated by standing tall on two legs, then bending one knee and putting most of the weight on the other foot.  The hip tends to drop on the side of the bend knee -- and remain high on the side with the straight leg.  Such a drop is used to compensate for the normal rise in the body as one pivots over the support leg with a straight knee.  For advanced race walkers, it is also a mechanism by which the walker can further extend the trailing (driving) leg and delay toe off.  Hip drop can best be learned by working with an instructor or experienced race walker.
 
3. Hip rotation refers to a rotation about the spine.  Hip rotation is simply the action used when doing the "twist" (familiar to those of you with some age).  Such rotation is extremely important in bring the muscles of the torso into play in helping to generate power for forward propulsion, and is very helpful in allowing the walker to extend the supporting leg behind the body (i.e., delaying toe off).
 
4. Hip sway: Hip drop and/or hip rotation does not include swaying the hips from side to side.  Such action wastes energy as it does not provide any help in moving forward.  It should be noted that side-to-side hip motion often accompanies movement of the arms too far across the centerline of the body, and can often be corrected by restricting arm motion to the arc from waistband to sternum (without crossing the centerline of the body). NOTE: A significant percentage of top race walkers from outside the United States do sway their hips from side to side. I am currently trying to determine why they do so.
 
 

 
In this slower-motion animation, you can clearly see Icabod using hip rotation and hip drop. The hip joints move in an oval fashion; down and forward (in green), up and back (in blue).
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