Author Archives: Zeena Dhalla
Author Archives: Zeena Dhalla
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!”
I was teaching clients in my studio a few days ago, and I said to them, “This is the best (but often hardest) exercise you can do daily”. Then I paused and said, “I think I’m going to write about it!”
So here I am, and here is the exercise:
These are the reasons why I love the reverse plank tabletop exercise so much:
1. It offers a killer chest and anterior shoulder stretch.
2. It forces your back muscles to work and support you in the lifted position.
3. The hamstrings fire to lift the hips, and the core has to engage to keep the pelvis still.
4. The whole backside of the body is working while the front side is stretching.
Now, let’s get real. Many people find this super difficult, because it’s a pretty intense chest opener. If you hunch forward at all, this exercise may be very uncomfortable! Beware, your hamstrings could begin to cramp if they are not used to working this way.
Now that I might have scared you away from trying it, let me add 3 warm up exercises you can do BEFORE attempting to do a reverse tabletop plank.
First, let’s do a quick chest stretch to open up the chest and shoulders.
Second, let’s do a pelvic curl to wake up the hamstrings and glutes.
Third, let’s do an exercise I call “hand pumps supine” to warm up the lats and other muscles that pull the shoulders away from the ears.
Finally, let’s try the reverse plank again. Is it easier? Do you now feel able to complete the exercise? Finally, do you think you can hold his for at least 30 seconds? Comment below as I’m curious to hear your answers.
So there you have it. A 4 exercise routine that will almost guarantee success in performing my favorite exercise. Do this daily, and you’re sure to get stronger in your backside and more flexible in your front side.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sitting is the new smoking. We are living in a world where sitting, inactive, all day long, can kill your back, neck, spine, pelvis, knees, hips, shoulders and feet. But you need to work at your computer! While a sit/stand desk is an option, you can still find yourself sitting far too long.
So… you need a chair that can minimize the negative effects of sitting..
Luckily…. I found one for you! In the past I have recommended the Gaiam Ball Chair. I’ve been using the ball chair for years, but I like this one better and have swapped it out at my own work station.
Introducing the ErgoErgo Active Sitting Chair:
I love this chair for a few posture specific reasons. First, the backless design forces you to sit up straight and not lean back to get lazy. I also enjoy being able to spread my knees wide and feel unlimited to move my body in the lateral range of motion (no arms rests in the way!).
When you sit on it, you will find the chair tilts forward a bit. This places the pelvis into an optimal position versus in the rounded (posterior) position which I find to be dreaded for the lower back.
When I used to sit on the ball chair, I found myself crossing my legs inappropriately and hunching over. On the ErgoErgo, this is not possible! The “active” part of the sitting won’t allow you to sit for too long in an incorrect position.
Now let’s talk more about the “active sitting” part of this amazing chair. The goal of this is to create movement in our day. This product does this and makes it fun and interesting. You can rotate your pelvis in circles, side to side, back and forth. AND do it while keeping your hands on the keyboard the whole time. It felt amazing on for my spine. I found myself sitting in better posture for hours on end because I didn’t have to sit STILL.
To get a good idea on how the chair works, check out my youtube channel here. I’ve demonstrated how this chair moves.
Now, to the one CON of this product: the height. Unfortunately, unlike the ball chair where you can blow up the ball, the ErgoErgo chair cannot be adjusted for height. This doesn’t matter for me since I have a sit/stand desk and therefore can adjust my desk to the height that I need. But for the average consumer who has a fixed desk height you will want to make sure you can sit on this chair and still have your screen at eye height and you elbows flexed at 90 degrees for proper hand/keyboard alignment.
The ErgoErgo website claims that the chair shrinks a little when you sit on it; It therefore adjusts to average “chair” heights and can accommodate sitters from height 5’0” to 6’4”. To be honest, I find it hard to believe that this chair, without the normal ability to move it up and down, can fit this huge range comfortably. However I do believe that if you fall in the 5’5” to 6’0” range you should be able to make it feel comfortable.
Like with any new desk product, you’re gonna want to ease into the use of it since you don’t want to shock your body and make it sore!
There is a kid version of the chair You bet I will be ordering one for my kid, and wishing we could install one into every classroom in America. Why do some kids have a hard time sitting still in class? Largely because their little brains and bodies were not meant to! This chair gives them the freedom to move and counteract the effects that sitting and technology are having on their little postures.
I am in love with this chair and can’t wait to hear what you think. You can order it here and I hope it gives you the freedom to get more activity and postural alignment into your sitting day.
In health and good posture,
PS. What does your current chair look like? Feel free to send me a picture of you in your chair for my analysis! Especially if it’s fun and unique like the ErgoErgo…