Leading with the pelvis:
In my last blog I discussed the pelvis and strengthening and mobilizing the hips to get the pelvis over the feet. In this blog, part 2, its time to transition the floor exercises to standing with the pelvis underneath the trunk and over the feet. As usual it has taken me a little longer then promised, the body is so incredible and I started getting inspired by other aspects of the hip and how it relates to gait and the feet (bunions and fallen arches etc) and my “keep it simple” resolution went out the window. So months later here is part 2, I’ll save the other stuff for future blogs. Enjoy…
My favorite standing hip exercises… Keep in mind the intension is to elongate the spine and walk with ease, keep this idea in your mind when performing the exercises. Stay mindful and curious, these should be fun.
~ Side step ups: start with straight knee
Don’t do too many of these, they can irritate the glute med tendon which is often misdiagnosed as “hip bursitis.” Use this exercise as a “ah-ha moment” notice if one side is easier or harder to prepare for stabilizing in the next step up exercise. Try 4-5 reps on each side, once you “have it” move on.
~Step up with bent knee: Now step up and keep hips even (photo 2 above), bend and straighten the standing leg without sinking into your hip. Try 10 reps on each side, repeat
This action (right hip abduction) is required to prevent excessive hip drop during while walking. (“Trendelenburg gait”)
Variation: step up with leg abduction – add hip abduction with out compressing the spine. Bend right knee, keep pelvis even, then when you straighten the right leg lift the left to the side. This series helps prevent too much lateral shift (the model walk from leading with the pelvis part 1) and allows the pelvis to move forward when walking. You can either add abduction for your second set, or just try two sets of these.
~Lunges – hip flexor stretch with glute strength
Get into a lunge position, bend and straighten the front leg. Keep the back knee soft and draw abdominals in towards the spine to avoid stress and compression in the low back. Keep your hips square forward like headlights, avoid twisting, feel a stretch in the front of the back thigh. People with tight hip flexors are prone to low back pain.
variation, stretch only: ~Hip flexors stretch – seated lunge. If it is too difficult to stand this can be performed sitting on the side of a chair. Or hold on to a chair for balance.
Standing squats are helpful for every day activities, great leg exercise, and you can do them anywhere. As you sit back release the gluteal muscles allow the femur to slide and roll. As you stand the glutes will kick in when needed, avoid over using the glutes and tucking the tail, this will put extra pressure into the knees. At the end stand up and elongate the spine. 10 reps, 2 sets
How does leading with the pelvis transfer to walking?
Thinking of propelling yourself forward from your sacrum, the triangle bone between the two sides of the gluteal muscles, this will help activate hip extensors when walking. Note this is NOT a tuck of the pelvis nor is it a leaning back of the shoulders. It should almost feel as if you are falling forward like a rocket ship taking off. Often we see people leading with their chin or shoulders and, even more now with the texting posture, leading with the top of the head. This puts tremendous pressure on the neck and upper back. If you need to text while you walk lift your device to eye level.
Play with walking postures. Try walking with your chin forward (“forward head posture” or “sway back posture” D) take a moment to feel where stress starts gathering. Now try leading with your belly button (“increased lumbar lordosis”also “forward head posture” B.) Feel your low back starting to gather tension? Now try looking down with rounded shoulders and walking forward (“texting posture.” C) Lastly, stand and feel your weight drop into the center of your foot, feel your pelvis neutral a sense of the pubic bone leading with out tucking, feel your head floating up, allow natural rotation and swinging of the arms; now walk as if someone is gently pressing your sacrum forward (“good posture” A). Feel lighter?
Enjoy exploring walking from the pelvis. Next time we will visit the feet…
Next blog… More on the foot, avoid bunions and lift those arches.