"Look my right hip is higher than my left!", says my friend as she stares at herself in the mirror with her hands firmly pressed into her body at the top of her iliac crests (sides of her pelvis).
Being an anatomy detective, I say, "Let's see what happens if you widen the distance between your feet." As my friend widens her stance, her hips become level. This means that my friend has tightness in the opposite hip's Iliotibial Band (ITB) and Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) and weakness in the same side Gluteus Medius. Exercise is the remedy!
Issues causing the pelvis to be off are often due to asymmetries in the Lateral Line of the body (as defined by Thomas Meyers, author of Anatomy Trains, as the paired muscles and fascia that ascend from the outside ankle, up the side of the lower leg, into the ITB, gluteus medius and TFL, into the obliques, muscles of the ribcage and terminating at the side of the head close to the ear.)
An intermediate exercise to target left sided Gluteus Medius weakness and right contralateral tightness simultaneously is pictured below.
The start position is lying across the width of the MINIMAX, which is a version of an arc barrel - a small piece of Pilates equipment, often called a Pilates prop. Exhale, fully and press up off of the support elbow (stretching the side body or Lateral Line) and simultaneously lifting the top leg into Hip Abduction ( make sure to maintain the lifting leg in line with your torso or slightly behind so as not to engage the TFL.)
If this Pilates exercise is too difficult, separate the movements. The pictures below are stretches for left side body. Using the MINIMAX as a soft but supportive arc barrel will allow more stretch of your side body to occur then by doing the stretch on the floor.
Using the HANDIANDS another Pilates prop to stretch the leg across midline will stretch the ITB.
To target weak Gluteus Medius, use the MINIMAX flipped over with your bottom leg resting on the Pilates prop to stabilize the pelvis and to work the weak muscles through it entire range of motion with no activation of the TFL, because the arc barrel maintains the lifting leg in hip extension.
The MINIMAX and HANDIBANDS are excellent small pieces of Pilates equipment which can be used in your home Pilates studio and/or at the Pilates studio. Using Pilates props can target the correct muscles to fire at the right time. The body always seeks the path of least resistance and likes to compensate for weakness and tightness - precise exercises will get you the results you want.
Full small Pilates equipment workouts with the MINIMAX and HANDIBANDS can be found on Hooked on Pilates YouTube channel. Please reach out with any questions or ideas for blogs or workouts.
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