Hip dips. No, we’re not talking about a funky new dance move or a difficult yoga pose. The term actually refers to an indentation between your hips and thighs that some women get — and many worry is a body flaw that needs to be fixed. In fact, a Google search for “hip dips” will give you a whopping 33 million results.
“I actually only realized I had hip dips a few years back, I think, when everyone started talking about them on social media,” says Kimberly Jesicka, a 52-year-old beauty entrepreneur. “I was just really into abusing myself with self-criticism, and this was just one more thing to pick on,” she muses.
So why all the social media fuss about this part of our bodies? To really understand, we asked experts what hip dips are, should we be concerned if we have them and are there ways to change them.
What exactly are hip dips?
Also known as “violin hips,” these mid-hip dips that are curved like the instrument, are most prominent when you look squarely in the mirror. “The dip is caused by in indentation in between two prominent bony structures — the ilium of the pelvis at the top and the greater trochanter of the femur at the bottom,” explains sports physiotherapist Luke Pickett. “Hip dips are a normal anatomy feature, and they aren’t something to worry about,” he adds.
Depending on how your hips and pelvis are structured and how your body fat is distributed, they may be more pronounced in some women than others. And they don’t cause any medical issues, so worries involving the pesky indents are generally purely aesthetic.
“While curvature around the hips can be different in everyone, some may find hip dips to be a cause of distress in their overall appearance, especially in tight-fitting or contoured clothing,” says Samuel J. Lin, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Boston, MA. “We regularly see women concerned about their hip shape and want to change it.”
This video helps explain the body phenomena:
What can be done about hip dips?
Largely genetic, and essentially just a part of how you are built, when it comes to hip dips, personal trainers say there isn’t any way to change them through exercise completely. But if they do make you feel self conscious or sap your confidence in any way, there are some exercises you can do daily to lessen their appearance. Bonus? These exercises — like this back-pain-curing workout — can have great health benefits too.
“Since hip dips essentially refer to the gluteus medius, the area on the side of your buttocks, and one of the main stabilizers of the hips which plays an important role in your overall physical health, strengthening it helps with posture, back pain, knee pain and pelvic floor health,” says Ashley Nowe, certified pregnancy and postpartum fitness specialist, founder of Get Mom Strong, and creator of the health and fitness app SLAM (Strong Like A Mother).
New York-based personal trainer Gabrielle Hogan, NASM, CPT, of Runway Ready Fitness outlines six exercises that women can do at home without any equipment to shape and sculpt this part of the anatomy. Aim for three sets of 10-12 reps for each exercise. Plus videos that show how to do each properly:
Squats: For proper squat form, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed out. Proceed to drive the hips back and down, bending the knees to lower into a squat. Keep chest lifted and core engaged. Then drive your feet into the ground, using your legs and buttocks to stand back up.
Step downs: To complete this exercise (where you are essentially squatting with one leg that’s up higher than the other), you simply need a step stool, a box or even your stairs will work! Start by standing with one foot on the object you are using with the other leg off to its side. Once you feel comfortable and have the core engaged, slowly squat with the leg that’s on the on the object one leg until you get to either 90-degree flexion in the knee or the heel on the other leg lightly taps the floor and, without pushing off the heel, come back up into the starting position.
Hip thrust: Start by sitting with your feet flat, knees bent and your back against an elevated surface (bench, couch or box). You want the bench or whatever you use to be just below the shoulder blades and have your feet about hip-width apart. Once you have the right position, drive your feet into the floor while lifting your hips and squeezing your glutes and core. Imagine yourself as a tabletop. Stay paused here for anywhere from 1-5 seconds and then begin to bring your hips back down into starting position slowly.
Donkey kick: Start on all fours with palms flat on the ground. If that’s too difficult, you can rest on your forearms. Your knees should be under your hips while keeping your neck and spine neutral. You will then engage the core and lift one leg that’s bent 90 degrees, the foot stays flat, and you will use your glutes to press the leg up — squeezing at the top for a 1-5 second pause and then returning to the starting position.
Clamshell: Start by lying on your side with your knees slightly bent about 45 degrees, with one leg stacked on the other. While keeping your feet together, lift the top knee until it’s in line with your hip, then bring the knee back down to the starting position.
Fire hydrant: Start on all fours, you can have straight arms with hands under the shoulders or go on to your forearms. Then, keeping the core engaged, lift one leg away from the body with the knee bent at 90 degrees. Pause for 1-5 seconds, then return to the starting position.
Are there other non-exercise fixes for hip dips?
Some women skip the exercises (or find them to be ineffective) and go right for the quick fix. “Liposuction, fat transfer and silicone implants are all potential surgical methods to change the appearance of the pelvic silhouette,” says Dr. Lin. It’s important to note that plastic surgery procedures come with serious risks and may not permanently fix the problem in the long run.
“Listen, you cannot change how your bones are positioned or your body stores fat,” urges Nowe. “Do the exercises for better health and let that be the motivation.”
“I think women need to get better at not looking at body flaws as a way to engage in self-attack and instead focus on your strengths,” says Robi Ludwig, Psy.D, author of Your Best Age is Now. “We are more than a hip dip.”
Kimberly Jesicka agrees. “I finally resolved that my hip dips are a part of me, and I now look at them as sexy!”
Jené Luciani Sena is a veteran journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author of The Bra Book: An Intimate Guide to Finding the Right Bra, Shapewear, Swimsuit, and More! and Get It!: A Beauty, Style, and Wellness Guide to Getting Your #It# Together. She’s also a style, bra and beauty expert regularly seen on shows like Access Hollywood and NBC’s Today.
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