Is MELTing Your Hips the Secret to Whole Body Stability?
February 21, 2018
A lot of people with low back, knee, or foot pain may be surprised to hear that their problem might actually be that their hips are unstable. Remember, pain tells us where the victim is – to make lasting changes, we need to look for the criminal.
With all the sitting most of us do every day, the tissues in the lower body and your backside are in a constant state of tension and compression. When you compress connective tissue or pull on it for long periods of time, you pull the vital fluids out of this supportive collagen matrix. This damages the collagen fibers, decreases the flexible supportive environment connective tissue creates, and ultimately you get what I call pre-pain signals, like joint stiffness, when you finally do get up from your chair.
Even if you don’t sit all the time, the repetitive movements of leading an active lifestyle – whether you like running, yoga, or cycling – are similarly dehydrating to the connective tissue. This cellular dehydration means that the hips often become tight, achy, and unstable.
I want to show you a few MELT moves that you can do to help restore hydration to the pelvis. All you’ll need for this is the Soft MELT Roller.
Before you start, I want you to do a quick assessment:
Lie on the floor with your arms and legs straight and relaxed, palms face up. Close your eyes and, using your Body Sense, notice what you feel. First, look what I call the four common imbalances: If all your upper back weight is on your shoulder blades, if your mid-back is arched off the floor, if your tailbone is more weighted than your butt cheeks, or if the backs of your thighs feel off the floor on one or both sides, you have identified stuck stress in your body. Left unaddressed, these common imbalances can lead to neck and low back pain. Turn your head left and right. Do you feel pain or sense limited range? Assess your Autopilot. Imagine dividing yourself into right and left sides. Does the right or the left side feel heavier or longer, or do they feel even? Finally, breathe and notice if there are any restrictions as you take a full breath.
SI Joint Shear
Bend your knees, put your feet flat on the floor, and place the roller under your knees. Engage your core, lift your hips, and place your pelvis on top of the roller. Bring your knees just past perpendicular, so they’re angled toward your head. Slowly angle your knees slightly right and left to explore both SI joints. Try to keep your knees together. Pause on the right side and Shear the right SI joint by making small circles with your upper legs 2–3 times in each direction. Then try circling just the lower leg in larger but slower circles, and slowly moving your knees forward and back in a marching motion, 2–3 times. Keep your legs tipped to the right side, pause for a moment, maintain the pressure, and take 2 focused breaths. Return your knees to the center and repeat on the left side. Keep your legs tipped to the left side, pause for a moment, maintain the pressure, and take 2 focused breaths. Return your knees to the center.
Pelvic Tuck and Tilt Challenge
Bring your knees toward your chest and place your palms on the front of your thighs, close to your knees. Gently push your knees away from your chest until your arms are straight. Keep your thighs angled slightly toward your head. Take a focused breath and actively sink your ribs toward the floor below your shoulder blades. Breathe in and, on the exhale, gently press your thighs into your hands as if you were trying to bring your knees to your chest, but don’t bend your elbows or shrug your shoulders. Take a breath in and, on the exhale, try to tuck your pelvis toward your side of the roller. Inhale while sustaining the pressure of your thighs toward your hands, and then on the exhale, slowly tilt your pelvis, returning it to the top of the roller. Repeat the tuck and tilt 4–5 times, moving slowly. Gently return your feet to the floor.
With the center of your pelvis on the roller, flex your right ankle and cross it over the left thigh by the left knee. Bring your legs in toward your chest. Place your right hand on your right inner thigh just below the knee. (For added support, you can place your left hand on your flexed right ankle or behind your left thigh but don’t rotate the pelvis to grab the left leg.) Simultaneously push the right thigh up and away from you with your right hand while your left thigh, perpendicular to the roller, presses into your right outer shin. Once this “push-pull” position is achieved, take a focused breath and actively tilt the pelvis on the top of the roller. Sustain the tilt and take 2 or 3 focused breaths as you sense the length between your right hip and your right knee on every exhale. Return your feet to the floor and switch sides.
When you are done, return your feet to the floor, get the roller out from under your pelvis, and return to the Rest Assess position, with your arms and legs extended.
With your arms and legs straight and relaxed, palms face up, breathe and allow your body to relax into the floor. Close your eyes and take a moment to reassess. Remember the four common imbalances. Did you make changes? Do your ribs feel more weighted to the floor? Is your low back curve more relaxed and closer to your pelvis? Is your pelvis more weighted on your butt cheeks than on your tailbone? Have the backs of your thighs settled to the floor? Turn your head from left to right. Do you have more range of motion? Is there less pain or stiffness as you turn your head?
If you made any changes after doing these MELT moves, congratulations! Your body is quick to adapt and ready to make changes!
If you’d like to try some other moves to help you improve hip stability, mobility, and control, try my MELT Hip Opener Map on MELT On Demand. Do this map before or after long periods of sitting, or integrate it into your workouts to help restore some hydration to your pelvis. Another great map to watch if you sit a lot is MELT for the Desk Sentence. Subscribe to MELT On Demand and start watching these maps instantly.
Sue’s Insider Tip
Once you’ve spent time hydrating your lower body, I recommend moving on to the Lower Body Stability Sequence on MELT On Demand. Increasing the stability of your hip girdle will significantly reduce your risk of low back, knee, or foot pain.