If you experience lower back pain, hip extensor issues, notice one hip higher than the other, or feel like one of your legs is longer than the other, a pelvic tilt may be the culprit.
What is a pelvic tilt? It means the left or right side of your pelvis is tilted higher than the other, causing unilateral muscle imbalances in the body.
It's a fairly common health condition that causes postural dysfunction. A pelvis that is out of alignment sets off the entire kinetic chain of movement throughout your body. A pelvic problem can quickly lead to issues in your hips and legs, feet, ankles, and back.
Unfortunately, if one leg is longer than the other, we cannot tell our body to keep growing until they even out. However, you can treat and prevent a lateral pelvic tilt through regular hip alignment exercises, pelvic stretches, and massage of the area.
Read below to find out why your pelvis is out of alignment, how to realign hips, and how to fix lateral pelvic tilt using some efficient pelvic alignment exercises.
What causes a lateral pelvic tilt?
A pelvis out of alignment can undoubtedly give the impression that one leg is longer than the other, but this is not usually the case.
Uneven hips and pelvic tilt is caused by a muscle, specifically the quadratus lumborum. This muscle attaches to your pelvis and lumbar spine and is within your abdominal wall. It's responsible for bending your body from side to side and is a pelvic stabilizer.
Leg length discrepancy, scoliosis, injuries, a pronated foot, muscle imbalance in your hips, and poor posture can make this muscle tighten over time, and push your pelvic bones out of alignment, causing a hip imbalance.
Lateral pelvic tilt symptoms
It can be uncomfortably painful, performing everyday activities with a hip out of alignment. Symptoms of pelvic tilt include:
- feeling like one leg is longer than the other
- an unbalanced walk
- pain in your hips and back
- weak glutes and abdominals
- uneven shoulder height
- internal rotation of the leg
- spinal disc degeneration and herniation
How is a pelvic tilt diagnosed?
It's always good to consult a knowledgeable professional. If you head to an osteopath or physiotherapist, they will quickly assess your musculature correctly, and give you some next steps. If you're looking to assess this yourself first, you can do the following to check if your hips are out of alignment:
- Stand up straight in front of your full-length mirror.
- Find the front of your hip bones with your fingers. Place the heel of each hand on your hip bones.
- Hold a piece of twine, string, or a measuring tape in each hand.
If the line between your hands looks parallel with the floor, you do not have a pelvic tilt (or, at most, you have a minor one).
If the line does not look parallel with the floor, you may be dealing with a pelvic tilt.
How to fix pelvic tilt
The best treatment plan for pelvic tilt is three-fold - chiropractic, massage, and strengthening lateral pelvic tilt exercises work together for a lateral pelvic tilt fix.
Chiropractors will work to get your body and hips back into alignment without the use of medication. By getting regular chiropractic adjustments, they release your muscles and joints to loosen and realign.
See a chiropractor and develop a personalized treatment plan.
A massage therapist can do soft tissue manipulation to loosen up your tightened muscles and improve blood flow to the affected hip area to promote healing.
Stripping deep tissues in the quadratus lumborum and spinal extensors will alleviate some symptoms, and give you back the range of motion to start an excellent prevention program by strengthening critical muscles with exercise.
Lateral pelvic tilt exercises you can do from home
The old, wise adage says that the best offense is a good defense. This saying hugely applies to our physical health. Strengthening your hips and surrounding muscles through exercise will help treat your pelvic tilt, and prevent it from happening again.
Here are five exercises you can do easily from your home to strengthen your hips. Perform these 2-3 times a week on alternating days.
At first, try these exercises without any equipment. Once you've mastered the proper form, introduce a hip circle band, commonly used in physiotherapy, to rehab injured muscles and joints. The extra resistance helps to strengthen your hips gently.
Reverse lying leg raises
Reps: 15 on each leg
- Lie on your stomach on a yoga or exercise mat. Place your arms folded under your forehead for support.
- Activate your left glute to lift your left leg straight off the ground. Pause, and return to the starting position.
- Repeat, then switch to the right leg.
Reverse standing leg lifts
Reps: 15 on each leg
- Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, facing a counter or the back of a sturdy chair. Place both hands down for support.
- Starting with your right leg, activate your glutes to lift your right leg straight behind you. Keep hips facing straight forward.
- Pause. Return to the starting point and repeat. Then, switch to the left leg.
Reps: 15 on each side
- Lie on your left side on an exercise or yoga mat. Bend your knees toward you at 90°. Place your left arm folded under your head for support.
- Keeping ankles together, lift your right knee up and away from the left. Activate your glutes through the exercise. Ensure you keep your hips stacked, and don't roll your body forward/backward during the move.
- Return to the starting position and repeat. Switch to the right side.
Lying hip adduction
Reps: 15 on each side
- Lie on your left side on your yoga or exercise mat. Prop your head up with your left hand, keeping elbow bent, and on the ground for support.
- Bend your right knee and place the right foot in front of your left knee. Keeping your left leg straight and foot flexed gently, lift your lower leg as far as you can while maintaining good form. You should feel this move through your inner left thigh.
- Return to start and repeat. Switch legs.
Standing hip adduction
Reps: 15 on each side
- Stand beside a counter or sturdy chair. Face sideways, placing your left hand on the surface for support. Place your right hand on your hip.
- Kick your right leg a few inches in front of you. Keeping your toes pointed forward, move your right leg in toward the chair. Your inner thigh should be activated.
- Return to the start, and repeat. Switch sides.
Pelvic tilt can certainly be uncomfortable and painful, but the great news is it doesn't have to mean a life sentence of hip and gait issues. By performing these exercises regularly, stretching, and getting chiropractic and massage treatments as necessary, you can effectively treat and prevent pelvic problems in the future!