8 Post-Natal Hip Rehabilitation Exercises
I wasn't going to be able to pull those things up if my life depended on it. So for a brief moment, I accepted that my extraordinary, life-carrying body was forever changed. Then I began asking questions.
I began to study exactly which muscles stretch and tighten during pregnancy to accommodate the shifting pelvis and growing baby. I hypothesized that with the appropriate lengthening and strengthening postures, I could potentially get the pelvis to come back together, thus bringing in the hips and saving me money on new clothes.
I practiced the following sequence daily for about 10 weeks before I attempted to put my jeans on again. To my surprise, not only did they fit, they were big! I had created more strength and stability in my pelvis than I had pre-babies—resulting in narrower hips.
The Practice: Everything is done with the breath. Keep your inhales long and smooth to communicate to the body that you are creating relaxation—even as you are strengthening. Try to match the lengths of your inhales to the lengths of your exhales. You can achieve this by simply counting. Start with a three-second count and work your way up.
Practice this sequence four to six times per week to see results in one month, but don't put your jeans on just yet. Stick with it for eight to 10 weeks and you'll be amazed.
Thread the Needle1 of 9
To stretch your outer hips, you'll begin by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat. Cross one ankle to the outside of the opposite knee, creating a figure-four shape. Reach through the diamond of the legs to grab the thigh of the planted foot, and draw the knee straight back toward the shoulder. Play with the position of the pelvis on the mat. For a few breaths, let the tailbone curl up to the sky, then lengthen it flat on the mat—creating the natural curve of the lower back spine.
Hold for 10 to 12 breaths before switching sides.
Happy Baby2 of 9
To lengthen your inner thighs, lie on your back, bend your knees to your chest and grab hold of the outsides of your feet. Let the knees open and drop toward your underarms. Once again, play with the position of the pelvis—allowing the tailbone to curl up for a few breaths and then lengthen it away.
Hold for 10 to 12 breaths.
Side Lying Series3 of 9
Lie on your side and bend your knees so they're at a 45-degree angle from your hips. Lift the side waist away from the mat.
1. Keep your heels together as you open your knees as wide apart as possible without letting the pelvis roll back. Lift 30 times.
2. Keep your ankle in line with your knee as you lift your leg up and place it back down without letting the pelvis roll around. Lift 30 times.
3. Keep your top leg lifted as high as you can while maintaining a neutral pelvis. The ankle should stay high as you tap the top knee to the bottom knee and lift it back up to start. Repeat 30 times then roll over to the other side and repeat the series.
All Fours Hip Circles4 of 9
To mobilize the pelvis, get on your hands and knees with your wrists beneath your shoulders and knees beneath your hips. Your arms and thighbones should stay relatively fixed as you make hip circles, moving the pelvis around the thighbones. Repeat eight times in each direction.
Downward Facing Dog5 of 9
From all fours, either use or imagine you have a yoga block or a playground ball between your inner thighs. Feel the thigh bones hug to center—the inner thighs will want to grip the ball, but you want them to stay relaxed and train the outer hip muscles to draw the thigh bones to center to hold. Hold for six to eight breaths.
Crescent Lunge6 of 9
This pose will help stretch and strengthen your hips. From the downward facing dog position, step one foot forward, bending the knee to drop the thigh parallel to the ground. Stay balanced on the ball of the back foot.
Bend the back knee as much as needed to get the tailbone to lengthen down to the ground and feel the pubic bone and low belly lift up. Again, imagine there is something you're holding between your inner thighs and firm the outer hips toward one another. Hold for eight to 10 breaths and return to downward facing dog to switch sides.
Warrior II7 of 9
From the downward facing dog position, step one foot forward and come into crescent lunge again. Keeping the bend of the front knee, spin the back foot to the ground so you are aligned heel to heel and your toes point toward the same front corner of the mat.
Check to see that your front knee is in line with your second and third toes. Also take note if your front leg hip is trying to stick out to the side. If it is, hug it to center. With arms extended out to the sides in a T-shape, let the tailbone lengthen to the earth and hold for 10 breaths before coming back to downward facing dog to switch sides.
Half-Moon Pose8 of 9
The half-moon pose is designed to create strength and stability. From the downward facing dog position, make your way through crescent pose then back to warrior II. From warrior II, you will reach forward, placing your hand to the outside of your bent knee. Shift your hand forward and lift the back leg up to balance on one hand and leg. Hug the standing leg thigh and hip to center, and hold for six to eight breaths. Gently exit back to warrior II before returning back to downward facing dog to repeat on the second side.
You will finish how you began. Return to lying on your back to thread the needle, then happy baby, then rest.