When this client came to see me his hip pain had been worsening for over 4 years. He’d given up running and even walking was very painful at times. He’d seen GP’s and consultants but found no relief and so in his own words he thought “this was something I would just have to accept.”
I examined his posture and was surprised by the sheer number of postural misalignments I could see! From the front view (click image above to enlarge) his feet were in very different positions, a sign that his hips were working very differently left to right. His upper body was leaning over to the right, which was squashing that side of his body and putting uneven pressure down below into the pelvis and hips. If that wasn’t bad enough, his side view was even worse! Can you see how far forward his hips and pelvis were from his ankles? This is a sign of weakness and imbalance in the muscles in that area. Furthermore, his upper back was really rounded or ‘hunched’, causing his shoulders and head to come forward a lot.
After showing him his photos, I explained that we should focus on two key areas. One, getting the pelvis and hips more balanced so they didn’t lean forward from the side view, and two, improving his upper back, shoulders and head position, even though he felt no pain there. As a posture specialist I’m often repeating the mantra ‘the site of your pain is rarely the source of your pain’ and in this case I thought the biggest problem was his upper body. If that could improve it would cause less compensation down below in the hips and pelvis and hopefully this would help with his pain. It might seem odd to give someone with hip pain exercises for their upper back, but I think it would be odd not too! The body is a unit and you’ve got to look at how all the parts are working together.
I told him that it would take some time, months more than weeks, and that to improve his posture he didn’t need to consciously try and stand taller because that never works, and plus what would be the point anyway? The body is designed to move, so if I teach him to stand up straight, as soon as he walks or moves he’ll return to poor posture and inefficient movement. Instead, I wanted to give him posture correction exercises which stretched, strengthened and ‘woke up’ certain parts of his body, so that his muscles were more balanced and would hold him in better posture without him having to think about it, not just when he stands, but more importantly when he moves!
We started off with 3 posture corrections exercises, and from observing him I could see that he could do them comfortably and with no pain. He even looked a little taller by the end of the session and that was a really good sign. I asked him to do them everyday and to come back in a week. When he returned he said he already felt a little better. I checked he was doing the exercises correctly, which he was, and then added a few more in to challenge his body further.
The photos below (click to enlarge) I took after only 2 months. Look closely from the feet all the way to the head and you can see improvements in every position. As the months went on his pain disappeared and he went back to running. It took 11 sessions in total spread out over about 9 months.
His is an excellent example that even if your pain is getting worse, has lasted several years, is excruciating at times, effects your everyday life and ability to walk, and even if you think you’ve tried everything, there is still hope!
If you’d like to find out more about posture correction therapy click here.
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Ameet Bhakta BSc, DipHE – I’m a posture specialist certified by the Egoscue Institute, and founder of Health Through Posture based in London.