Like a rather charming Colombian singer once pointed out; hips don’t lie… and she couldn’t have been more spot on.
Anterior pelvic tilt, lower-crossed syndrome, Donald Duck posture. However you spin it, misaligned hips can cause a whole host of issues, most commonly reported being some manifestation of lower back pain, groin strains or hamstrings strains amongst others.
Have a gander at this diagram:
Notice the excessive lumbar curve in the lower back? The pull on the hamstrings? Not exactly an ideal position for day to day living is it, especially if you then add extra load through your spine in sport or forceful exercises like jumping or heavy back squats (an exercise I very rarely prescribe).
However, as a functional human being you should be able to sprint, bound, jump and shift decent weight around day to day right? So what limits our ability to do this? Excluding actual injuries etc., the answer is poor posture for the most part, i.e. being weak in a position (e.g. a squat, hip hinge, or single leg stance). Which as the image shows, is often due to weak and tight muscles pulling you out of alignment, typically caused from prolonged sitting.
Take hamstring or groin strains during sprinting for example. Making those muscles lengthen even further than they’re already stretched to from bad anterior pelvic tilt, eventually that’s gonna make something go ping. Ouch…
“But my hamstrings are tight!” I hear you say. Well, they’re actually taught – spasming relentlessly trying to pull your hips back to neutral, just giving you the perception of “tightness”.
Top tip: help them do exactly that by exercising them more!
This also transitions nicely into our solution for APT – simply put, strengthen what’s weak (glutes, adductors, hamstrings and core).
Now you may hear some say also to stretch what’s tight, however here’s my 2 cents on that.
The lower back would benefit far more from a massage than a stretch, to truly break up adhesions and knots, I’d avoid stretching it altogether as it’s liable to ping if that bad (but everyone’s unique, listen to your body). Secondly the hips need to be stretched AND strong. They’re vital in human movement, especially in hip control! It just so happens they get tight from being sat all day for most of the population, so exercise and stretch them equally.
Lastly, for those of you reading who may be thinking this doesn’t apply to you or you don’t show symptoms of APT, have a look at these next 2 images:
Notice the hip alignment? And more importantly, what happens to the joints above and below? And how about from the side, see the shoulders and neck?
From a little knee soreness, ankle sprains, chronic lower back pain, through to a stiff neck, headaches or even shoulder impingement, chances are your pelvis has some (not necessarily all) involvement in the problem.
My clients will often hear me describe the pelvis as a bowl of water, the trick is to align it so no water can spill out in any direction – an ideal alignment to reduce predisposition to injury, dysfunction and pain.
And if you’re one of the few lucky ones reading who still don’t present any of these issues either, then remember the pelvis and trunk are the highway between lower and upper body. It can always benefit from more training to make you more powerful.
Thus it’s important to consider the hips from side to side, not just front and back and strengthen accordingly.
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Better Body Group, Personal Training Sevenoaks