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How to Align Your Hips

Four Parts:Figuring Out the ProblemStrengthening Weak MusclesStretching Away TensionSeeking Professional Help

Hip pain is often debilitating. It can be caused by a varies of issues like running and exercise injuries, poor and long hours sitting or wrong sleeping posture are among the sources of hip pain. Most commonly known for improper alignment of muscles, bones, and joints of the pelvis. Alignment problems can be caused by unalterable defects in the skeletal system, but most are actually due to imbalances in muscle strength. These imbalances can be corrected through careful, diligent exercises to strengthen the weaker side and relieve tension.[1]

Part 1
Figuring Out the Problem

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    Confirm that your hips are misaligned. The best person to judge this is a doctor. However, there are ways to check for improper hip alignment at home. This can be done if you are unable to see a doctor or you are trying to figure out which type of doctor you should go to.
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    Assess your pain. Hip misalignment can cause pain in three different distinct areas. If you experience pain in one or more of these places, your hips may indeed be misaligned:
    • Hips: This may seem obvious, but there are many different types of hip pain with different causes to consider. Its best to identify or feel for achy or inflamed joints by slowly moving left to right possibly in front of a mirror.
    • Lower back: Hip misalignment is associated with hyper-extension and tension of the muscles in the abdomen and lower back. Problems with these muscles can manifest as sore or acute lower back pain.[2]
    • Knee: Hip misalignment may cause you to shift too much weight to one side of your body. The knee on that side may not be able to handle the extra stress, causing pain.[3]
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    Perform a standing assessment. This is a simple test you can do at home to look for obvious signs of misalignment. Wearing formfitting clothing will make this step easier.
    • Stand barefoot in front of a mirror or have a friend take your picture. Try to stand straight but relaxed.
    • Imagine a vertical line going straight down the middle of your body.
    • Now, imagine a second line near your shoulders that is perfectly perpendicular to the first line.
    • If your hips are out of alignment, your pelvis will appear diagonal rather than parallel to the second line. Another sign of misaligned hips is if your legs appear to be different lengths. Either way, if your hips appear uneven between your left and right side, you have a lateral pelvic tilt.[4]
    • Repeat this process while standing in profile. A properly aligned pelvis will form a parallel line, while a person with anterior or posterior pelvic tilt will form a diagonal.[5]
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    Determine any specific causes for misalignment and correct them. Sometimes there is an easy-to-spot root cause of improper hip alignment that you can fix immediately.
    • Not stretching enough after exercise. This is especially important after running. If you're not stretching, lactic acid could collect in your muscles, causing pain.
    • Poor posture. Work on consciously sitting and standing straighter.
    • Wearing a heavy shoulder bag. Switch to a backpack to more evenly distribute the weight.
    • Not wearing the right shoes. If your arches are too high or too low, this can alter your gait to the point of misalignment of your hips.

Part 2
Strengthening Weak Muscles

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    Perform pelvic tilts. Don't be confused by the name of this exercise. A pelvic tilt exercise can help to correct a pelvic tilt misalignment by uniformly strengthening your pelvic muscles.
    • Lie flat on the ground with your knees bent. Your arms, upper back, lower back, head, and the soles of your feet should all be touching the floor.[6] If you are pregnant, a safe alternative is to prop your back against a wall instead of the floor.[7]
    • Brace your abdominal muscles, pressing your lower back against the floor or wall. Hold this position for 6 to 10 seconds while breathing normally.[8]
    • Repeat this exercise 8-12 times daily.[9]
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    Practice prone hip extensions on your weaker side. This exercise will help to evenly strengthen the muscles of your legs and lower back. Once you are able to do this exercise with minimal pain, add ankle weights to your routine. This exercise is not recommended for pregnant women.
    • Lie face down with a pillow under your hips.
    • Bend the knee of your weaker side at a 90 degree angle with your foot pointing up.
    • Lift the leg slowly, keeping the knee bent.
    • Lower the leg back down slowly.
    • Begin with 6 to 8 repetitions daily, working your way up to 12. Repeat this exercise 2 to 3 times a week.[10]
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    Try side-lying hip abductions. This exercise strengthens the muscles of the outer sides of your upper leg and lower back. Add ankle weights to your routine as you progress.
    • Lie on your stronger side with your head cradled in the crook of your arm.
    • Bend your stronger side's leg forward slightly to provide support.
    • Straighten your weaker side's leg and slowly move it up and back to a 45 degree angle.
    • Slowly lower the leg and pause to rest for 2 seconds.
    • Begin with 6 to 8 repetitions and work your way up to 12. Repeat this exercise 2 to 3 times a week.[11]

Part 3
Stretching Away Tension

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    Stretch your iliotibial band. The iliotibial band is a piece of connective tissue that runs from your outer pelvis, down the side of your leg, and to your knee. Misalignment of your pelvis can cause this band to become inflamed during exercise.[12] Don't perform this stretch if you're pregnant, as the change in your center of gravity may cause you to fall.[13]
    • Stand next to a wall for support.
    • Cross one leg behind the other
    • Lean on the hip of crossed-over leg towards the wall.
    • Once you feel a stretch, stop and hold your position for 30 seconds.
    • Rest for 30 seconds and repeat for a total of 4 repetitions. Then, do 4 repetitions with the other side. Do these stretches daily.[14]
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    Perform the seat side straddle stretch. This stretch works the abductor muscles of the hip.
    • Sit on the floor with your legs spread apart.
    • Place both hands on one shin and lean towards your hands as far as you can go without moving your other leg.
    • Hold that position for 30 seconds.
    • Rest 30 seconds before repeating the stretch on the other side. Do a total of 4 repetitions (8 stretches) daily.[15]
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    Do knee to chest stretches. This type of stretch will balance posterior hip muscles. It is safe for pregnant women and is specifically recommended to help with pregnancy-related hip pain.[16]
    • Lie on your back. Your knees should be bent and your feet flat on the floor.
    • Move one knee as close to your chest as possible while keeping your lower back pressed to the floor.
    • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
    • Relax and lower your leg.
    • Rest for 30 seconds before repeating with your other knee. Perform 4 repetitions with each leg daily.[17]

Part 4
Seeking Professional Help

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    Talk to your primary care physician. If you have access to healthcare, a qualified medical professional is the best person to diagnose and treat your hip alignment problems. If you are experiencing inflammation or pain, your doctor can prescribe the correct and safest medications to help. If your problems are outside your doctor's area of expertise, you may be referred to a specialist.
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    See a physical therapist. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. A physical therapist will help you regain mobility through guided exercises and stretches. Your physical therapist may also advise you on the right routine you can do at home.[18][19]
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    Undergo surgery to correct severe problems. For hip alignment issues not treatable by exercise or medication, surgery may be required. Surgeons can alter the shape and alignment of the hip socket and joint to make it easier to move in a procedure called a periacetabular osteotomy. If your hip is severely damaged, a surgeon can resurface or completely replace your hip through arthroscopy.[20]


  • Always consult a doctor if you have chronic or severe acute pain before attempting to treat a hip problem yourself.
  • All strengthening and stretching exercises should be performed on carpeting or an exercise mat. Hard floors may exacerbate your pain.
  • Another source of hip misalignment may be abnormalities of the muscles and bones in the feet.
  • While genuine leg length discrepancies are rare, they may cause hip misalignment not treatable by these exercises.
  • Prevent hip misalignment and injuries by running on flat surfaces.
  • Stop doing these exercises if your pain is getting worse unless specifically directed to continue by a doctor or physical therapist.[21]
  • Avoid high-impact, high-repetition exercises until your hips have been properly re-aligned.[22]
  • Pregnancy commonly causes a special type of hip misalignment called symphysis pubic dysfunction. The hormone relaxin loosens ligaments to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal more easily. Sometimes the ligaments relax too much, causing pelvic joint instability and pain. Pelvic tilt exercises and pelvic support belts are the best ways to treat this problem.[23][24]
  • Weight loss can also reduce hip problems.[25]

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Warm Ups Stretching and Flexibility