Quickie Hip Release

When your squish is just a puddle of cuteness, you can just smoosh her up to your chest or cradle him in your arms. But at a certain point, usually around the time she can sit up on her own, it becomes easier to situate your baby on one hip, leaving one arm free for…sipping a delicious adult beverage, flirtatiously flipping your hair, or the somewhat less glamorous reclipping of the nursing bra.

I never really had issues with lower back pain until my daughter got big enough to ride around on my hip. Then the pain that started on the right side of my lower back would eventually reemerge up in my neck as well. Much like Forrest Gump, I felt crooked like a question mark.

Never one to let things be, I started experimenting with different yoga poses and massage techniques until I came up with this. My inspiration came from a Thai massage I received where the therapist placed his knee in my glute (while I was on my back) and then held that leg in a tree pose position. I decided to use one of my large therapy balls in place of a knee and do both sides at once to save time (duh) and to create a more restful body position.

When I practice this move, I feel my outer hips (external rotators) and inner thighs (adductors) both release thanks to a fancy physiological feedback loop known as reciprocal inhibition. In the cobbler’s position, as the external rotators shorten, the adductors lengthen. The pressure of the therapy balls encourages further release in the external rotators. This release works its way throughout the rest of the body, helping me feel more grounded and balanced through my feet, and freer through my low back and neck. As such, this move may be helpful not only for folks carrying babies but also butt-clenchers and others experiencing lower back pain.

I am using Yoga Tune Up Alpha balls but smaller sized therapy balls would work as well. If you don’t have ‘legit’ therapy balls, tennis balls or racquet balls would also work. I would not recommend placing harder balls (i.e. lacrosse, golf, or bocce) in your glutes because you’ll be working so close to the sciatic nerve. Speaking of which, if you experience any tingling in the legs or feet during this pose, try repositioning the therapy balls; you may be hitting that nerve.

Get into position:
• Lie on your back.
• Bridge your hips up away from the ground a bit and place your therapy balls underneath you.
• Hold the therapy balls in place on the ground so they will rest somewhere between the edge of the sacrum and the hip joint as you slowly lower your hips down.
• Still with your knees bent and feet on the floor, take a few moments to let your weight fully sink onto the therapy balls.
• Then open the knees and bring the soles of your feet together.
• Set a timer for about 3 minutes.
• Relax the whole body.
• Focus on your breath with out forcing it. Imagine that each inhale inflates the tissues making contact with the therapy balls. With each exhale, feel those tissues deflate as you continue to soften, open, and release.
• When your timer goes off, take your time.
• Use your hands to help the knees back together.
• Bridge your hips up without squeezing your bottom and remove the therapy balls.
• Set your hips on the ground and take a few breaths to see how you feel.
• Roll over to one side and sit up.

Let me know how it goes! AND I would love hear (or see) how you use your free hand when carrying baby on hip.

Please remember, I’m sharing my experiences here, not offering diagnoses or prescriptions. Use common sense, in-person coaching from your yoga instructor or massage therapist, and advice from your doctor when you embark on a new exercise journey.