Want to Unlock Your Hips? Look at Your Pelvis.
This is the ultimate guide to pelvis mobility and how to use it to unlock your hips.
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely searching for that missing ingredient for superhuman hip mobility so you can unlock tight muscles, reduce the risk of future issues and build strength.
What most people don’t realize with hip mobility is how crucial the pelvis is when it comes to unlocking your tight hips. Yes! The more freedom your pelvis has, the greater movement potential your hips have. Sounds easy enough but there’s not a lot of useful information out there to show you how to do this.
For fun, try Googling pelvis, pelvis exercises, or pelvis mobility and you’ll be bombarded with tips on how to:
Pop your pelvis back into place (don’t do this folks, the body doesn’t work like this!)
Reset your pelvis (you’re not a computer)
Fix my tilted pelvis (you’re not broken)
Find neutral pelvis (life doesn’t always take place in neutral pelvis)
Other things you’ll see will usually be about pelvic floor exercises, which can be extremely beneficial for both women and men but this will not help with unlocking tight hips.
Keep reading and I’ll explain the power of the pelvis for unlocking your hips, along with some incredibly powerful pelvis exercises I use on myself and with clients.
HOW YOUR PELVIS IMPACTS TIGHT HIPS
In simple anatomy terms, your pelvis is what connects the upper body to the lower body. When you walk, run, or do anything athletic, the pelvis is constantly moving in 3 dimensions. That’s right folks, we’re talking 3 dimensional movement of the pelvis! When the pelvis moves well in all 3 planes, the femur head (which sits in the pelvis), can now move/rotate even further. This is what you need if you’re looking for more hip mobility. Just remember:
Increased pelvis movement = increased hip mobility
Here are some other amazing benefits of increasing pelvis mobility:
Increase internal and external rotation of the hip
Decreased pinching in the hip
Reduced SI Joint pain or discomfort
Lower back relief
Improved running efficiency
WHAT CAUSES THE PELVIS TO STOP MOVING
Imagine you see someone walking like they have a stick shoved up their…you know what. That’s what happens when your pelvis can no longer move in all 3 dimensions. So what causes our lack of pelvis mobility? There are two main reasons why the pelvis becomes locked up and immobile.
Reason #1: Too Much Sitting
All of us are way too familiar with. Too much sitting causes all the tissues of the pelvis area to slowly tighten up. Once you finally stand up, everything down there feels so locked up, you're only option is to walk like the Tin Man!
Reason #2: Staying Tight When Exercising
If you’re a gym goer, have you ever noticed that every exercise asks us to NOT move our pelvis??? Think about it...with deadlifts, squats, lunges, abs and any exercise done on a machine we’re supposed to have a tight spine with zero movement from the pelvis. All of us, including me, were scolded if we ever moved our pelvis or lower back when doing any exercise.
If you don’t use your pelvis, you WILL lose your pelvis.
And we wonder why nothing moves well down there!
HOW TO GET YOUR PELVIS MOVING (AND UNLOCK YOUR HIPS)
We now know that lack of pelvis movement is a cause for tight hips that few are aware of. We also know that if you stop using your pelvis, you’ll lose it. So how do we get the motion in the ocean and your pelvis and hips moving again?
Put on your lab coats folks, it’s time to do a quick dive into pelvis anatomy. What most people don’t realize, is your pelvis is meant to move in three dimensions. Below I’ll explain how to get movement back in each of these three dimensions.
Coaching Tip: Keeping Your Movements Pain-Free
For all of the exercises below, keep in mind that they must be pain and pinch free. This is non-negotiable. At first the movements will be quite small, and that’s totally fine. You will not get where you want to go any faster by forcing the movements or moving through pain or pinching.
The Best Exercise to Improve Pelvis Movement in the Sagittal Plane
Up first we have pelvis movement in the sagittal plane. Just think twerking! All kidding aside, this is where the top of the pelvis bones move forward (sticking your butt out) and then moving it backwards (tucking your butt underneath you). If you’ve ever heard someone say "anteriorly tilted pelvis” this is the movement they’re talking about. If you are naturally tilted this way, it’s not a death sentence, however, you should work on getting your pelvis to move well the other way (tucking your tail underneath you).
In the exercise below I go over how to get the pelvis moving well in this plane of motion. One good cue to think about is not letting the movement come from your ribs. Start with 1-2 sets of 10 per day.
The Best Exercise to Improve Pelvis Movement in the Frontal Plane
Next up is the frontal plane, or pelvis hiking. Imagine “hiking” your waist up towards your armpit.
For years coaches were taught to never let this happen when you run, walk, or do anything athletic. However, if you watch one of the greatest sprinters ever, Usain Bolt (fastest man ever), you’ll see this motion constantly happening during his stride. So if you’ve ever been told you have a “hiked hip” there’s nothing wrong with you. You just have to be able to control this motion for both sides.
In the exercise below I give you a simple way of learning this movement pattern. Try your best to keep the pelvis moving in only this plane, as supposed to tilting and rotating. Start with 1-2 sets of 10 per day.
Where the Magic Happens: Best Exercise to Improve Pelvis Movement in the Transverse Plane
Last but definitely not least, is the pelvis movement in the transverse plane and it’s where the real magic happens. Why? In this plane, we bring pelvis rotation to the party, which is incredibly important because your pelvis not only rotates, but the more that it rotates, the more the hips can rotate. This is what just about every person is missing the most.
If you’ve ever been told that your hips are out of alignment, or your pelvis is rotated, once again you’re totally fine. You’ll simply notice that rotating your pelvis one way or the other won’t move quite as well. That’s ok, just keep practicing!
For the exercise below, your mind will melt a little bit when you try to initiate the movement from the pelvis. Hang in there, it does get easier pretty quickly once your brain figures it out. Keep your hamstrings engaged the whole time by “attempting” to drag your heels toward you. Also, the upper body is going to want to get involved, try your best to keep it completely still. Start with 1-2 sets of 10 per day.
Using 3 Dimensions of Pelvis Movement in Your Workouts
Now that we have 3 dimensions of movement in the pelvis I wanted to give you a real world application that you can start to incorporate into your workout.
We’re going to take a static lunge and start applying all three movements to the pelvis. When doing this, feel where your restrictions are coming from (most likely it will be in the rotational component). After doing the lunge, do the exercise associated with the limitation and then retest the lunge again. You should feel more connected and that is how you make gains!
Start the lunge with 2 sets of 30-45 seconds unloaded whenever you’re doing legs. Slowly build up control in the pelvis movements during the lunge and then you can start to add load.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
Continue to build strength in your hip joint and join me for the Healthy Hips 10 Day Challenge to help you unlock your tight, sticky hips in less than 10 minutes a day.
You’ll get the exact system I use to target the most essential areas of the hip (I call this the “Hip Hierarchy”), full coaching on how to assess your hips, and a full plan with exercises for how to unlock those hips.
Beginners to advanced movers welcome! Click the image below to check it out and I’ll see you on the inside!
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Mobility Coach with over 15 years experience in his field and has coached over a thousand professional, collegiate and everyday athletes with the goal to help them move, feel and perform at their highest level. He's incredibly passionate about bringing simple and effective online mobility training programs to everyone who wants to take control of their self care and make lasting change. CLICK HERE to learn more.
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)
Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor
Weck Method Qualified