Yes, I said hula, not Hulu. While the video streaming service rocks my world, I’m talking getting back some of that movement in your hips. Good hip and pelvis motion can get rid of hip, back, and shoulder pain. Plus, it will make you walk faster.

This is the final installment in a three-part series dedicated to loosening up the hip and pelvis area. In March, we started with some hip pendulums, April brought us showers, May flowers, oh, and hip circles. And now May is going to look specifically at the pelvis, which, no, is not the same as the hips.

Quick anatomy lesson so you know your target, and then I promise to get on to the moving part.

The pelvis is the big, round bowl that we basically sit on all day. It connects on the top to the tail end of our spine (called our sacrum) and at the bottom to our thigh bones (or femurs). If you’ve ever thrown out your lower back, your doctor or chiropractor may have talked about the SI joint: this is our target. If you have been lucky enough to avoid that agony, you are going to find the joint this way. Reach around behind you, and find your spine about at your pants waistband. Go out about an inch or so on either side. Now, slide your hands down until you feel a hard surface, and then feel for the indent. On thin people, this is the pair of indents/dimples we see below the waistline. Those dimples are your target.

Now, let’s get to work.

By now you should know my rule: Never move in to pain. If these exercises hurt, stop. You can try them slower or do fewer of them, but never move in to pain. If you cannot, it means you aren’t ready for the exercise, and that’s fine, too.

Pelvic Circles
Pelvic circles look a bit like belly dancing or trying to get a hula hoop to work, so you can use that visual as long as you shrink the movement down a TON. In reality, the movement should be quite small – not undetectable, but you aren’t putting on a show, either.

1. Stand up nice and tall. I want you to think tall thoughts and push up through the crown of your head.

2. Relax the knees just a bit (I still need you to lengthen through the spine while you do this).

3. Tilt the pelvis forward just a bit (tilting forward from the SI joint).

4. Now drop one knee even more so you are tilting to the side.

5. Bring the knee back up even with the other (both knees still relaxed) and tilt the pelvis back.

6. Drop the other knee so you are now tilting to the other side.

Now, smooth this motion out until it’s a nice continuous circle. It is probably going to feel really awkward, but I promise you, the body is meant to move this way. Once you can make 3 nice, smooth circles in one direction change directions and go in the other for 3 circles.

After you have done 3 circles in each direction, stop, go walk around a little bit, and see how that feels. If you have done it slowly and with intent then you will likely feel that you are walking just a bit different, and that it’s simply easier.

Now you have three hip and pelvis exercises that work GREAT together to keep your hip flexors relaxed and decrease tension bodywide.

You’ll find the best results if you do all three exercises on a daily basis. As I mentioned last month, it takes time to re-teach the body to move, and like learning any new skill, it takes a larger investment up front. So, you won’t have to do these every day for forever, your body will actually tell you when it’s been enough.

Remember, just like being a great writer takes practice, moving well and without aches and pains also requires work and practice. See you next month!


Jen Waak is a Seattle-based movement coach who uses a system that combines eastern philosophy with western medicine to reprogram the nervous system and get people out of pain, moving better, and feeling younger.

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