The hips are an important part of our body's basic alignment. They are a ball-and-socket joint that helps form the foundation for the rest of the body.
The problem is, there is a long list of activities that can throw our hips out of alignment. From sitting all day to simply tripping over a crack in the sidewalk, it's ridiculously easy to throw our hips out and when we do, it can lead to problems in the spine, lower back, and even in the knees and other parts of your body.
If you're experiencing lower back pain misaligned hips could be the cause. Because your hips support most of your body, you should treat them well. This means making sure they're aligned and doing the stretches and exercises needed to keep them that way. If you think your hips might be out of whack, take some advice from our quick hip alignment guide.
How To Tell If Your Hips Are Out of Alignment
While you should always consult a professional when it comes to serious pain, there are some simple ways to check your hip alignment at home.
- Find a fairly firm surface (a table is ideal) and lay on your back
- Bend both of your knees while keeping your feet flat on the table
- Lift your hips off the table (into a bridge) then set them back down once
- Straighten your legs until you are flat
- Use your hands to find the front of your hip bones on both sides (the pointy part of your pelvis)
- Check to see if one point is closer to your chest than the other (you might need someone else to offer their opinion)
You can also simply look in the mirror, locate these points, and see if one is higher than the other.
How To Realign Hips
So, you've done the test and...whoa. Your hips are definitely uneven. Now what? While going to a professional will help with pain, there are some things you can do at home to get your hips aligned. Staying active and exercising and stretching regularly are the most important thing you do to keep your body healthy and aligned. Here are a few specific exercises and stretches to help with hip alignment.
Hip Alignment Exercises
Hip Alignment Exercise #1: From Healthline
- Lie on your back with your feet against a wall.
- Using the leg on the same side as the hip that is tilted toward your shoulder, press your leg into the wall.
- At the same time, press your higher hip down with your hand.
- Hold for 10 seconds, and then release.
- Do 12 repetitions.
Exercise #2: From Livestrong
- Lie on your side with hips and knees bent.
- Lift your top knee up while keeping your feet stacked, one on top of the other. Repeat 10 times then change legs.
Exercise #3: From Breaking Muscle
Top: Incorrect Bottom: Correct
- Sit against a wall with your legs straight out in front of you, and your feet hip-width apart.
- Your buttocks and upper back should be against the wall.
- Your tailbone should feel snugly wedged up against the wall.
- Place your hands on your lap, with palms up. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold. Don’t lift the shoulders; only squeeze them back and down.
- Tighten your thighs and flex your feet back toward you, and hold. The emphasis is keeping your shoulder blades pulled together, thighs tight and feet flexed back.
- Relax your stomach muscles, and breathe deeply through your belly. Hold for three minutes.
Hip Alignment Stretches
If we sit a lot, our hip flexors can shorten and cause tightness and pain. To open those muscles, try a deep lunge. Stand and then take a large step forward. Carefully bend the front leg while keeping the back leg straight. Tuck your tailbone to make sure you feel the stretch in the front of the back leg. Hold this for about 20-30 seconds and then switch.
There are a number of yoga poses/stretches that will stretch out your hip flexors. One of those stretches is the Butterfly. To do this stretch, sit on the floor and bend both knees, bringing your feet together. Use your hands to open your feet like a book and press your knees toward the floor with your elbows, and lean forward, keeping your back straight. To get more of a stretch, extend your arms out in front of you. Hold for about 20 seconds.
Wide Leg Bend
For this stretch, sit on the floor and bring your legs straight out in front of you. Then, spread them out to a comfortable distance, without forcing them. Lower your upper body until you feel a stretch and then hold it. This stretch will help stretch your inner thighs and hamstrings which both connect to the hip area and can contribute to misalignment if they're tight.
Channel your inner-child, or baby, with this hip-opening, yoga stretch. Lie flat on your back. Bend your left knee and hold onto the outside edge of your flexed foot with your left hand keeping the arm on the outside of the leg. Use your upper body strength to press the left knee to the floor without tensing your shoulders or chest. Hold this for about five breaths and then switch legs.
Fire Log Pose
This yoga pose can bring relief to the piriformis which is an area of the hips that can cause sciatic pain (pain in the lower back or outside of the buttocks that can travel down your leg). To do this stretch, sit on the floor and bring your right leg in front of you, bending the leg at the knee. Place the lower leg knee directly above your ankle and then lower legs parallel to each other so they look like two logs on top of each other. To get more of a stretch, lean forward and hold.
Injuries can be caused or worsened by tight muscles but more importantly, stretching is an important part of staying aligned and staying in alignment is the best way to minimize pain and avoid injury.
Need Help Staying Aligned?
Stretching is an important practice to help your body stay aligned. However, if your body is currently out of alignment, you may need corrective insoles to get your body realigned in the short-term. That way, your long-term efforts pay off faster.