The Way You Stand Is Damaging Your Body
Today I want to talk to you about a posture I call “The One Leg Booty Pop.” Technically called “hanging on one hip,” it is where the entire body weight is shifted onto one weight-bearing leg. This posture causes the pelvis and hip to be in a position of adduction, and it is wreaking all sorts of havoc on you and your body.
Take a look at this picture. I’m sure many of you recognize it as a stance you adopt frequently – on a water break at the gym, while holding your kids, or simply after standing a long period of time. Physical therapists look out for this posture when we are assessing someone for back, hip, knee, and pretty much all other types of pain.
You might just be standing around, but your hips and spine are in peril.
All Bone, No Muscle
Let me put it in perspective for you. You know how when your friend is standing tall, you can sometimes hit the back of their knee and it buckles? And then it takes them a moment before they catch themselves from falling?
If you manage a successful takedown, it is because your friend has locked out the knee joint and is resting simply on ligaments and bone. In other words, he or she is not using any active muscular control at the knee joint. This is why the knee buckles and why it takes a second before the muscular control kicks in to prevent a fall. The same thing happens when you hang on your hip. Instead of using your muscles, you rely on the ligaments, hip capsule, and bones to support your body weight.
Who Is at Risk?
It’s all too easy for anyone to get in the habit of standing like this, especially people who stand for long periods of time. It does tend to be more common with females, and it is almost always to the same side.
One of the biggest populations I see fall into this trap is parents, especially new parents. They often lock out at the hip joint in order to hold their child for longer of periods of time without having to use active muscle control. Law enforcement or correctional workers also seem to assume this position frequently. This is because they typically wear a heavy belt that is also asymmetrical, with one side weighing quite a bit more than the other.
Standing for long periods with asymmetrical loads on your hips—whether it's a gun or a kid—can induce the booty pop.
Consequences of Hanging on One Hip
The problem with hanging on one hip in this adducted stance (also known as the Trendelenburg gait) are numerous and significant. They include knee pain and arthritis, hip joint dysfunction, gluteus medius tendinopathy, low back pain and nerve impingement, muscle strains, and of course all of the compensations that occur with each of these injuries. Let’s look at some of these issues in more detail.
- Lumbar Spine: Active hip control is lost in this position, and the glutes and pelvic floor muscles become inhibited. This leads to increased loading of the medial knee (a huge contributor to arthritis) and compensation by the lumbar spine. This compensation can cause over-activity of the lateral stabilizers of the spine, as well as decreased space between the nerve roots in the vertebrae. Ultimately, these effects can lead to impingement.
- Gluteus Medius: This position increases loading on the IT band over the greater trochanter (the outside of your lateral hip). This is important because one of your glute muscles, the gluteus medius, inserts on the greater trochanter. The increased load causes compression on this tendon, which has been found to lead to gluteus medius tendinopathy. The pain caused by this condition can interfere with sleep and day-to-day weight-bearing tasks, not to mention training.
What Can You Do About It?
One of the most important ways to prevent these problems is to simply be aware of your posture throughout the day. Most people have no idea they hang on one hip. In fact, I was talking about this article to a team I was coaching earlier this week as they were resting. About a third of the group realized they were standing in this stance while drinking their water, and they had no clue they were doing it. Once you realize you have a tendency to adopt this stance, you can make a more conscious effort to stop it. And yes, it will require conscious effort.
After this important step, the best thing you can do is reinforce proper movement through training. Click the links below for videos of glute and core exercises to re-establish proper posture and movement.
Just to reiterate - the most important way to counteract those awful negative effects is to stop the one leg booty pop. If you continue to adopt this stance, you will be fighting a battle you can’t win. Make the change today.
More Ways to Enhance Your Hip Health:
- Simple Tips to Improve Essential Natural Hip Function
- Release Your Hip Flexors: Groin Stretch 101
- An Easy, Effective Hip Flexor Stretch You Can Do Anywhere
- New on Breaking Muscle Today
Photo 1 courtesy of Cassie Dionne.
Photo 2 courtesy of Shutterstock.