Hands down one of the largest deficits I see with my physical therapy clients is their inability to hip shift. Every step you take, your pelvis has to rotate over the femur. Restrictions with this movement often lead to compensations which cause back pain, hip pain, knee pain, and even foot pain.
How do you know if you have a restriction? When you stand with your weight on one side, do you feel like one side is more comfortable than the other? Do you have hip, back, or knee pain? When you are sitting, do you feel more weight on one side than the other? If you answered yes to any of these, you most likely have a restricted side. When the hip, or hemipelvis, becomes restricted, it creates compensations throughout the trunk and leg. You may have tight hip flexors, tight hamstrings, tight back extensors, or tight calves.. You may have a restriction on just the left side, or you may have it on both. Rarely, do you have hemipelvis restriction on just the right, and that’s because of our asymmetrical anatomy.
Hip shifting is vital in all of our activities: walking, going up/down steps, throwing, running, and kicking to name a few. Proper hip shifting increases power, agility, and reduces pain symptoms. The more available range of motion you have in each of your joints (up to normal range of motion values), the more variability and movement options you have. This reduces the chance of developing compensatory patterns, ensures proper stability through your joints, and lowers your risk for injury.
Most of the time this restriction is subtle. I had it on both sides and had no idea. I just thought that was a normal feeling. It wasn’t until I started doing repositioning exercises that I realized just want full hip range of motion felt like. As soon as I got my range of motion better, my hip and knee pain decreased. Of course, this is a personal account, but I have seen this again and again with many clients.
If you think you have a restriction, you can try to address it with exercises that promote hip extension and hip adduction. Hip lifts, posterior pelvis tilts, goblet squats, and step ups are some of my favorites. However, if these exercises are painful or difficult, you may require a manual release or more advanced repositioning activities to establish better coordination between your ribcage, spine, and pelvis.