Before I work with any client, I ask them to send me their posture pictures. Every time it’s eye opening. Usually the first thing they say is:
“Oh wow…I’m crooked!”
Having an uneven body is very common. Athletes are uneven from using one side more than the other (tennis serve, baseball pitcher, golf swing). Non-athlete clients also develop compensatory patterns from driving, writing, carrying a purse, lifting a child, and other life movement patterns every day.
When dealing with back pain, the first thing I look for are visual discrepancies from left to right. Usually the pain is felt on one side more than the other, and when we see a corresponding alignment issue we can get to the root of the problem. One of the biggest issues I see are crooked hips. This is when one hip looks higher than the other. If you place your hands on your hip bones and look in the mirror, you can see that one hand might be slightly higher than the other.
I have crooked hips. Unfortunately, my crooked hips are caused by a genetic leg length discrepancy. My right femur is 1.1 cm shorter than my left (confirmed via MRI). I do exercises everyday to make sure this problem doesn’t get any worse, and I am able to live pain free because I have solid core strength.
For most people, the crooked hips syndrome is mechanical (versus anatomical). This means that everyday life patterns have caused a tightness/weakness that has lead to this alignment problem. This also means that with consistent exercise, you can fix it.
Unfortunately I am not able to assess each and every one of you reading this blog post since a program for this problem can be very specific to each individual. Instead, I am going to give you some basic exercises to do that will naturally even out your hips.
FIrst, let’s start with a little foam rolling in areas around the hips that tend to be chronically tight. For those of you unfamiliar with foam rolling, visit this blog post here to get an explanation of why this is so important. We will start with the adductors, or inner thighs. Do both legs, but focus on the side that has more tender spots:
Next up, let’s do some static stretching. This is when you hold a stretch for about a minute with the goal of lengthening a particular muscle. For this next exercise, you are only going to do this on the ONE side with the higher hip. This will stretch out the side-core muscles that are compressed when the hip is hiked up:
Let’s also do a static stretch for the glute. You should absolutely do this on the side of the lower hip, though you can do both sides on this one:
Now, let’s do a little strengthening of the core to help stabilize the hips. This is a great exercise for the obliques, which are the muscles on the sides of your abdominals. Do this on both sides, but start on the higher hip side. Do as many repetitions as you can accomplish comfortably. Then, match that number on the lower hip side. Don’t do more on one side or the other.
Finally, this relaxation position is great as it helps the femurs relax evenly into the hip sockets using gravity. I would recommend holding this position for at least 10 minutes. Do this daily at the end of your day or after the workout above:
This routine (including the final relaxation position) should take no longer than 20 to 25 minutes a day. There are many more exercises that can help, but this should give you a solid start. If you are looking for more specific instruction for your individual crooked hip situation, be sure to email me and we can schedule a skype coaching call to address your individual needs.
Being crooked can cause hip/back/neck and even knee pain, so getting you straight will help you feel great!
In health and good posture,
P.S. Here is the information on my skype posture coaching calls in case you wanted me to take a close look at your own hips. As Shakira says… “hips don’t lie!”